Anyone who walks or falls on hot coals can be severely burned, and a child can sustain life-threatening burns. Hot coals should always be disposed of in designated containers at the beach or bay. Do not bury coals with sand. Hot coals covered by sand can retain an intense heat for up to 24 hours.
If a child is burned by hot coals, immediately cool the area, but do not use ice. Never apply ice to a burn.
"[Use] cold water to cool the burn and, at the same time, wash away the sand and debris. If there is time, apply and antibiotic ointment, but get right to the emergency room," said UCSD Regional Burn Center nurse practitioner Jason McSweeney.
Fireworks are illegal in San Diego County and extremely dangerous, especially those purchased in Mexico. Each year the UCSD Regional Burn Center treats patients who have suffered fireworks-related injuries, including those from small fireworks called "poppers" that easily fit in a pocket, where they can explode, set clothing on fire and cause serious burn injuries.
Lamp Oil and Lighter Fluid
Oil-filled lamps or torches on patios and backyards can cause severe burns if not properly secured, but there is another aspect of using these devices that often goes overlooked. The fluids involved can cause life-threatening pneumonia in young children and adults if the fuel is inhaled.
Each year, the Poison Center receives an average of 400 calls regarding the ingestion of lamp oil and lighter fluid, the majority of which involve children under the age of 5.
"A common source of exposure occurs when lamp oil or lighter fluid is placed in a drinking cup or other container in order to transfer it to the lamp, torch or barbecue," said Richard Clark, M.D., UCSD Emergency Department and Medical Director, California Poison Control System (CPCS).
Never transfer lamp oil or lighter fluid in a container normally used for eating or drinking.
Lamp oil and lighter fluid should be stored in the original, child-resistant packaging.
The lid should be securely tightened and the fluid should be stored out of the reach of children immediately after use.
Sun & Skin
The UCSD Regional Burn Center treats many children and adults with severe sunburns during the summer season.
Many people doze off while lying in the sun at the beach, by the bay or at the pool. Even if the weather is not extremely hot, severe sunburn can occur on gloomy days due to the intensity of the ultraviolet rays. The sun, reflected off the water, is even more intense and can lead to more serious burns.
"Most burns caused by the sun are first-degree burns," McSweeney said. "But each year, we see at least a dozen cases where the patient is burned so badly that it begins to blister. A handful of those are admitted to the Burn Center for inpatient care."
Brian Jiang, M.D., associate clinical professor in the division of dermatology in the School of Medicine, recommends wearing sunscreen with a UV-A/UV-B protection factor of at least 15.
Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours. Wear a wide-brim hat and tightly woven clothing. The American Association of Dermatologists (AAD) has approved certain brands that are good for sun protection.
It is generally recommended that children of all ages be kept out of strong, prolonged sunlight. However, sunscreen can be safely used from age 6 months forward. If for some reason it is unavoidable for an infant to be in the sunlight, sunscreen is probably safe at any age.
Sun & Sight
Sunglasses are sunscreens for the eyes. Without sunglasses, the eyes are unprotected from the harmful UV-A and UV-B rays of the sun. Sunglasses can be the main factor in saving your eyes from sight-ending diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts or skin cancer around the eyelids. UCSD experts recommend comfortable sunglasses that reduce glare and filter out at least 99 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays.