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5 burn hazards parents should look out for in summer

A parent straps a baby into a car seat
Take extra care when handling seat belts.

Summer in Queensland is known Australia-wide to be hot; we don’t get called the sunshine state for nothing. As weekends and holidays with family spent outdoors become more frequent, preventing your children from summer burns is important.

Many parents are practising sun safe habits with their children, especially over summer, but there are other burn hazards to look out for during the hotter months.

A hot day means a hot garden hose

In summer, cooling off and playing under the hose with the kids is the perfect heat busting family activity. Not only should you be keeping any water restrictions in mind, which we’re sure you are, but hot water burns from hoses is something to be mindful of in Queensland backyards.

A garden hose exposed to direct sunlight during summer can heat the water inside the hose (not flowing) to 55 to 60 degrees. At 55 degrees, it takes 10 seconds for hot water to cause third-degree burns and just one second for 60 degrees.

We recommend letting the water flow until the temperature cools before spraying it onto others.

A child plays with a garden hose

Buckle up for safety after checking the seat belt

Seat belt burns are often forgotten about, especially when buckling up before a drive seems like routine. Where possible, we encourage parking in the shade when you can.

If a car park is in the sun and it’s next to impossible to find shade, tucking the seat belts away is another great idea. Otherwise, staying aware of this burn hazard is important.

Metal gets hot, be mindful of playground slides

Regardless of age, you’ve probably had an encounter with the playground slide. In hot weather, check metal playground equipment, especially slides. They can get hot enough to burn a child.

Other metal objects in the playground to check are hand railings, monkey bars and ladders.

It only takes a second to check, but this is a burn that can be prevented.

A metal playground slide

Use water to put out campfires

Everyone enjoys campfires during the holidays, but it’s important to supervise children carefully around naked flames. However, keeping yourself and your family clear of fire burns is not the only danger present.

Embers and coals can stay hot for up to eight hours after a fire has been buried under dirt or sand. This means that one accidental step can cause serious burns.

To avoid this, it’s important to use water to put out campfires. Raking over the ashes will also help the heat leave coals faster.

Supervise children around campfires, and don’t let children walk around campsites barefoot.

Staying sun safe

This is the summer burn that many parents know about, but do you always remember to be sun safe?

Children are at a higher risk of sunburn because of their delicate skin. UV exposure during the first 15 years of life can increase the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma.

Wearing protective clothing such as a hat and long-sleeve shirt is a great way to reduce your child’s exposure to UV. Don't forget to put sunscreen (SPF30 or higher) on you and your child 20 to 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours and every time after you or your child have been in the water. Even when the sun can’t be seen, the UV rays are still harmful, so don’t skip sunscreen on cloudy days

Remember, your children will learn sun smart behaviour from you. This means that getting into a slip, slop, slap, seek and slide habit with your kids will help them later in life.

How to treat your child’s burn

If you are in a situation when you need to treat a burn on your child, follow these steps;

  1. Take your child to a safe place
  2. Remove any clothing or jewellery around the burn, but only if it’s not stuck to the skin.
  3. Hold the burned area under cool running water for a total of 20 minutes.
  4. When you’ve finished the water treatment or while you’re taking the child to see a doctor, cover the burn with a loose, light, non-sticky dressing like plastic wrap or a plastic Ziplock bag.
  5. Raise burned limbs.

When to get medical assistance

Go to a doctor, hospital or medical centre if your child’s burn is;

  • Larger than a 20-cent piece
  • Looks raw or blistered
  • Looks deeper than a surface burn
  • If your child’s pain persists

If you’re unsure of how bad your child’s burn is, it is best to seek medical help.

When the burn is to the face, hands, genitals, airways or is larger than your child’s hand call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.

To learn more about preventing indoor and outdoor burns as well as treating them, see here:

Last updated: 24 February 2020