When we think of the heat of summer, we usually think of hot weather. Unfortunately, summer is also a prime time of the year to suffer a burn injury. In fact, the most recent annual report from the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting Institute says the month of August saw the most burn injuries of any month in 2013. The report shows an average of 36 reported burn injuries a month and 54 burn injuries in August. September, October and January also had higher than average numbers of burn injury accidents. Here’s a look at 10 common sources of summertime burn injuries:
- Barbecue grills. The American Fire Association says that fires on residential properties that start from a grill, hibachi, or barbecue result in an estimated average of 10 deaths, 100 injuries and $37 million in property loss each year. The numbers peak from May through August. The Boston Fire Department, which offers detailed grilling fire safety tips, says most barbecue enthusiasts have taken to gas grills, which are safe and convenient appliances when used properly. But the LP gas used for grilling creates an additional fire and explosion hazard if the containers are not handled safely.
- Fireworks. The incidence of burn injuries related to fireworks is clustered around the Fourth of July holiday. A report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says 67 percent of fireworks injuries in 2014 happened between June 20 and July 20. Seven of 11 people who died in 10 noncommercial fireworks accidents last year were killed by explosion and four died in house fires started by fireworks. The CPSC says 54 percent of fireworks injuries were burns, which occurred to all parts of the body.
- Firepots. Personal fire pits or fire bowls are often considered outdoor decorations akin to candles. The CPSC warned in 2011 that firepots and gel fuel used together may present an unreasonable risk of injury.The problem is that the gel fuel burns with an invisible flame, potentially leading to the user trying to add combustible fuel to a firepot that is already ignited, with predictable disastrous results, a USA Today article explains. As of February 2014, CPSC had documented 106 incidents with 122 injuries involving portable liquid- and gel-fueled fireplace appliances. At least 61 victims of these incidents were hospitalized and two had died.
- Fire pits. While outdoor fireplaces may be used more extensively during winter, they also are popular on summer nights for their light and the emotional warmth of their glow. Fire pits may be designed to burn wood, gas or propane, any of which results in an open flame and a hazard of burn injury. Several outdoor fire pits have been recalled because the body of the device had been found to catch fire, tip over or fall apart during use.
- Campfires. Camping and evenings around a campfire are part of summer vacation for millions of Americans. But a campfire started with liquid fuel or an open flame that is too close to tents, tablecloths on picnic tables or other combustibles is a burn injury hazard. The American Burn Association says campfires should be built downwind and far away from tents, and in fire rings or pits if available. It is crucial to make sure a campfire is properly extinguished before turning in for the night, breaking camp or anytime it will be left unattended.
- Sunburn. You don’t need an open fire to burn yourself. When sunlight hits your skin, your skin absorbs both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn, which is a mild or first-degree burn. Prevent sunburn by applying sunscreen to all exposed skin before you go out in the sun, Harvard Medical School says. Reapply at least once every two hours.
- Pool chemicals. Many caustic chemicals, including chlorine used to treat swimming pool water, can cause chemical burns if they come into contact with skin. It is important for owners of residential, commercial and civic pools and water parks to ensure that chlorine and other caustic chemicals are used in correct amounts and are stored under lock and key when not in use.
- Hotels and motels. Because about 1,000 fires occur in hotels and motels every year, summer vacationers need to take stock of their surroundings when they check in at their travel destinations, the American Burn Association says. Identify multiple escape routes from your room, including stairways and exits. When making reservations, ask for a room close to ground level and ask whether the lodging has smoke alarms and sprinklers.
- Lightning. Every year 1,200 people are injured and up to 100 are killed by lightning strikes, according to the American Burn Association. Burn injuries caused by lightning are mild to severe electrical burns. You do not have to be directly hit by lightning to be affected. Lightning can travel along the ground to strike to you. It can also jump from nearby objects that are struck. Lightning can strike from miles away with little or no warning. The ABA says that if you can see lightning, take shelter. If you can hear thunder, it’s time to suspend activities to avoid risk of a lightning strike.
- Wildfire. In an urban area like Boston, your chance of encountering wildfire is less than it might be if you were traveling to the South, Southwest or Western U.S. for summer vacation. But the National Fire Protection Association says local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 334,200 brush, grass and forest fires per year from 2007-2011. This translates to 915 such fires per day. The Sunrise fire, which burned 5,000 acres on Long Island, NY, in August 1995 made clear to many the fact that the East can have massive wildfires similar to the West, the National Interagency Fire Center says.
Painful and disfiguring burn injuries take a heavy toll on burn victims and are extremely costly to treat. More serious burn injuries often require multiple corrective surgeries. If you have suffered a burn injury caused by the negligence of another person or a defective product in Boston, contact our Boston burn injury lawyers who can explain your legal options to seek compensation to cover your medical bills and other expenses. Call 1-800 Law Guys for help in a free consultation today.