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“A few seconds can give a first degree burn:” How to stay safe from scorching hot surfaces

The hot summer months can be dangerous in the desert with the risk of burning your hands on scorching surfaces like pavement, door handles, or steering wheels.

News Channel 3 crews took an infrared thermometer outside to test surfaces we all encounter every day. Temperatures ranged between 120 and 170 degrees.

As Eisenhower's operations director of the emergency department, David Romness anticipates more burn patients. 

"Just a few seconds can give you a first degree burn," said Romness. "I think the most common that people are aware of obviously is in their cars. Everybody that's lived here for any length of time knows you get in the car, it's extremely super heated, your steering wheel can be 150 160 degrees, the metal can be extremely hot."

Other surfaces like playgrounds, seatbelts, and metal door handles can get dangerously hot. Even leather seats can hurt.

"Yesterday I was wearing shorts and I got into the car probably around like 2 in the afternoon. It was like 100-- almost 120 I think and it felt like I got a little bit of a burn not gonna lie and it definitely hurt," said valley resident Alyssa Saenz.

According to a recent study, pavement burns played a direct role in summer being the busiest season of the year for burn centers. The study says, "The combination of sunlight and high ambient temperatures in summer months causes surface pavement temperatures to rise high enough to cause severe burns."

One of the groups most at risk for surface burns are kids.

"[Kids] can burn very easily. So it's very important at playgrounds that you do a touch test. Make sure that it's not too hot; make sure kids are wearing something on their feet," said Romness.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned families of the possible burns kids can get while on hot playground equipment.

One of the other groups at risk include the elderly and those with stability issues.

"They can fall on a hot surface, they can't get up easily, and it takes only a matter of minutes [to burn] depending on the surface temperature," said Romness.

According to Romness, here are some ways to keep you and your family safe:

  • Use a windshield sun shade in your car
  • Throw a towel over the kid's car seats to avoid them heating up
  • Tuck seatbelts under the seat so they don't get overheated
  • Do a touch test at the playground
  • Wear shoes outside and around the pool

If you do get burned, don't use ice. Instead use cool water with an ointment. 

"If you notice blistering, or it's very painful then I think you need to have a doctor take a look at it," said Romness.

According to a recent study, pavement burns played a direct role in summer being the busiest season of the year for burn centers. The study says, "The combination of sunlight and high ambient temperatures in summer months causes surface pavement temperatures to rise high enough to cause severe burns."

The Cleveland Clinic said pavement burns can happen in areas of direct sunlight when the air temperature 95 degrees or higher.

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.

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