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Summer Safety for You and Your Kids

Burns From Fireworks and Grills

July 4, 2002, Sia Karpinski of Akron, Ohio, stepped on a discarded sparkler with bare feet. She was treated for serious burns at the Burn Center at Akron Children's Hospital as an outpatient for about six weeks.

The CDC estimates that about 7,000 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2008 for injuries associated with fireworks. Half of those injured were children. Most injuries involved the hands, head, and eyes. 

Two more causes of serious summer burns are children playing around grills or throwing objects into campfires.

Burn prevention and treatment

Stick with public firework displays handled by professionals. Children should always be closely supervised when food is being cooked indoors or outdoors. Be aware that gas leaks, blocked tubes, and overfilled propane tanks cause most gas grill fires and explosions. Teach children to cover their faces, stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch fire.

Generally, minor burns smaller than a person's palm can be treated at home. But burns bigger than that, and burns on the hands, feet, face, genitals, and moving joints usually require emergency treatment. For a minor injury you can run cool water over it and cover it with a clean, dry cloth. Don't use ice, which can worsen a burn. And don't apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or butter, which can hold heat in the tissue. Consult your family doctor if a minor burn does not heal in a couple of days or if there are signs of infection, such as redness and swelling or worsening pain.

Foodborne Illness

Summer is prime time for weddings, picnics, graduation parties, family cookouts -- and foodborne illness. Feeding the large groups involved can make food safety especially challenging. After one graduation celebration, at least 81 students from E.C. Drury High School in Milton, Ontario, reported signs of food poisoning. Stool samples confirmed E. coli as the cause of illness, though the exact food source of the bacterium was not confirmed. Known sources of E. coli include undercooked beef, sausage, and contaminated produce.

Typical signs of foodborne illness include nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. In serious cases, high fever, bloody stool, and prolonged vomiting may occur. Young children, pregnant women, older people, and those with compromised immune systems are hit hardest.

Bacteria, whether in food or in the air, grow faster in warmer weather. You need to be aware of more than just the potato salad or egg dishes, experts say. You need to exercise care with any food, including melons and lettuce. Since 1996, there has been multiple outbreaks of foodborne illness for which fresh lettuce or fresh tomatoes were the confirmed or suspected source. The causes included E. coli, salmonella, cyclospora, campylobacter, and hepatitis A virus. Keep in mind that unpasteurized honey poses the danger of botulism to young children. Babies under 12 months of age should never be given raw honey.

WebMD Medical Reference

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