Keeping kids safe from burn injuries this summer

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The CDC says more than a million burn injuries in the U.S. require medical attention, and surgeons at UVM say during the summertime most of those burns happen to children. Melissa Sheketoff did some tests on common outdoor items that could be hurting your kids, and how you can protect them.

Playground equipment -- it's a parent's go-to when entertaining your children this summer. But it also could land your little ones in the emergency room.

"The kids will say, 'Ow!' but they're still on there," said Dr. Margaret Tandoh. She knows this all too well. The trauma surgeon is also the medical director of the burn program at UVM. "The equipment can overheat especially on playground with the metal slides, the swings -- those can get very very hot."

Unfortunately, Tandoh says she's busiest in the summer, and children are her primary patients. "It's a major surgery that has to be done to correct the problem, but could have been prevented," she said.

She urges parents to be proactive by feeling the equipment themselves. How hot is too hot? "If it's hot to your handm it's going to be even hotter to your kids' body part coming in contact with that equipment," Tandoh said.

To give you some perspective, the sun has only been out for a few hours on this day. So we decided to head to one of the more popular spots that your kids love -- the slide. It's already showing more than 130 degrees. Doctors say that's close to where your child would go home with a third degree burn.

"A temperature of 150 degrees will cause a third degree burn in about five seconds," Tandoh said.

But it's not just playground equipment that can sneak up on your kids. Chalking on the sidewalk has also been an issue.
"Kids need to have shoes, sandals -- protect the souls of their feet," Tandoh said.

And surprisingly, the most common burn Dr. Tandoh sees on kids comes after they accidentally step on hot coals from fire pits. "These were coals that were put out the night before and then the kids the next morning get burned," Tandoh said.

She says parents should take the time to talk about burn prevention with their kids. "The older kids should be able to understand this is going to hurt really bad," Tandoh said.

If you think your child was seriously burned, doctors say look for red, tender or even swollen skin. Severe reactions include fever, chills and nausea.