Research Medical Center July 02, 2018

WHO: Physicians within HCA Midwest Health and Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical C enter

WHAT: Interviews on Fourth of July Burn Safety and Prevention

WHEN: Tuesday, July 3 between 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: Five ERs within HCA Midwest Health and Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center

MEDIA: Media instruction provided upon interview confirmation.

WHY: HCA Midwest Health, the area’s leading healthcare provider with 10 nationally accredited Emergency Rooms throughout the metro and a nationally recognized regional burn center of excellence, Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center, is gearing up for increased ER visits that occur annually around the Fourth of July holiday week.

“Summer is considered trauma season anyway, with lots of injuries just from being active outdoors and extreme weather, like excess heat, but the Fourth of July presents us with additional visits because of burns and accidents caused by fireworks, grills, campfires, firepits, sunburns and more,” says Megan Garcia, M.D., board-certified surgeon at Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center. “The majority of these injuries—many life-threatening or life-changing—can be prevented, usually by common sense.” 

Burns are classed as first-, second- and third-degree burns.

“Any burn causes pain, but minor, first-degree burns don't go beyond the superficial layers of the skin," Dr. Garcia says. “More serious burns cause blistering and second-degree burns go deeper through the layers of the skin. Third-degree burns are full-thickness burns and, while they’re not generally painful in themselves, the nerve endings have been burned. So, any pain accompanying third-degree burns comes from the surrounding areas, not the burned tissue itself.”

Dr. Garcia recommends seeking immediate medical attention by calling 9-1-1 or getting to the nearest Emergency room for any burn blistering within 10 – 15 minutes of the injury.

To make the celebration fun and safe, Dr. Garcia offers tips to for a variety of activities that can cause burns.

Fireworks Safety

“First and foremost, leave the fireworks to professionals,” she cautions. “Kids and adults love fireworks and it’s just a fun pastime for the Fourth of July holiday, but it’s important to remember that first, in the Kansas City area, many suburbs and cities don’t allow them. And second, burns can happen within seconds—the risk of injuring yourself or someone else just isn’t worth it.”

Additional safety advice from Dr. Garcia:

  • If you’re going to engage in fireworks activities, a responsible adult MUST supervise all firework activities. 
  • NEVER give fireworks to children—even a sparkler is dangerous—they burn at temperatures ranging from 1,200 - 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby and dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.

Even the most innocent thing, like a playground slide, can cause a burn and, according to Dr. Garcia: “on the hottest of summer days—and we’ve already had a lot of those— the metal of a playground slide can actually cause a burn.”

Barbecue, Campfire and Firepit Safety

Grills, stoves, and open flames from campfires and backyard firepits can cause harm without proper supervision for kids and adults. Anyone exposed to flames or hot surfaces can get burned, but Dr. Garcia warns there are three groups with the highest risk:

  • The third leading cause of death in young children is burns—youngsters are most likely to hurt themselves around a campfire toasting s’mores or by pulling a pot off a camp stove and spilling boiling water on themselves. Even a sunburn from being exposed to the sun all day without proper SPF and coverage can cause serious burns.
  • The elderly are at risk because they often lack full sensation, so they can touch something hot and not realize it as quickly. Older skin is also more prone to damage and burning.
  • People who have been consuming alcohol are more susceptible to burns, too, because their reaction time is slower.

“So many of these tips are based on common sense, but bear repeating because accidents around open flames are all too common,” Dr. Garcia says.

  • When using a fire pit, barbecue grill or campfire, keep kids and pets away from the cooking area and supervise them around recreational fires.
  • Place the barbecue, fire pit or campfire in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures, especially wooden construction that can ignite.
  • Never burn anything in, on or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or deck.
  • Before using a gas grill check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel.
  • Make sure coals are cold before disposing of them. 
  • Don’t wear loose clothing while cooking.
  • Use barbeque utensils with long handles.
  • Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher handy.

For more information about Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical or to inquire about community burn education, visit https://researchmedicalcenter.com.