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Prevent burns during holiday weekend

July 2, 2010 3:20:51 PM PDT
What's a fourth of July holiday without fireworks and an outdoor barbeque? Both are a must for any Independence Day celebration, but keep in mind that these fire driven festivities put you at higher risk for burn injuries and it occurs easier than you may think.

Yolanda Valles, a burn patient, injured her finger while trying to get a stray piece of hot charcoal out of her sneaker.

"As I'm digging the charcoal out, the charcoal was breaking apart inside my sneaker, so by the time I got the sneaker off my skin was gone," said Valles. A skin graft from her thigh was needed to cover where the skin was completely burned away.

It's not the barbecue itself most times that caused such horrible injuries; it's burns from poorly-disposed hot coals.

Palmer Bessey, M.D. Weil Cornell Medical Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital, says there are some simple precautions you can take to prevent burns from happening:

  • If you're going to keep them in the fire space, keep them covered.

  • If you're on beach bury the stuff deeply so people don't come along and step on them.

    A third degree burn, like Valles, is where the skin is burned completely away. It needs immediate medical care. A second degree burn means blistering. If it's bad you should go to the emgency room. With a first degree burn, the skin gets red and painful, similar to sunburn.

    If the burn needs a doctor's attention, Dr. Bessey suggests wrapping the area in a clean towel until you get to the Emergency Room. Cold tap water will take out the sting of a mild burn, but beware of using ice.

    "It reduces the blood flow to the skin, and some area that may have been injured but are not dead, get starved for oxygen and die and can make the burn worse."

    At this time of the year, Dr. Bessey also warns the most common burns will be scalding burns, as toddlers and little kids pull boiling water for corn on the cob off the stove and onto themselves. So be sure to use common sense around kids.


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