With the ongoing heat wave across many parts of the country which has hit Texas exceptionally hard, I have a new warning for parents (and kids). My community has seen seen extremely high temperatures between 100-106 for the last two weeks. These temps have made everyone miserable and there have been many warnings about heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and ways to stay hydrated on the news.
Who knew that you needed to worry about burns other than sunburn? It seems that outdoor furniture, metal pool drain covers, and playground equipment have heated up with these unrelenting temperatures!
So…what is this alluding to? A patient just called me yesterday totally “freaking out” that her toddler had gone out to play in the backyard with his 3 year old brother. It was morning and not yet terribly hot, so she thought “best time to get out of the house and get some fresh air”. The boys were climbing on their outdoor fire pit (as children often do) and he stepped on the edge, and immediately started to scream and cry. His mother, who also happens to be a pediatric nurse, initially thought something had stung him? When she picked him up he continued to cry as if in pain, but she could not see anything at all….until she looked at his feet. He had stood on the metal on the edge and immediately burned his feet, to the point of blistering on contact! And, as you probably know, toddlers feet are typically flat (arches come later) so his “baby feet” had full contact with the metal and he sustained second degree burns to both feet.
When she got him to the ER they immediately started to treat his burns and pain (as burns are incredibly painful). She said she did not know who was crying more…she or her child. Once things settled down she asked the ER doctor at Children’s Medical Center if this had ever happened before! Unfortunately, the answer was yes. They had seen several other serious burns to children who had come into contact with metal on playgrounds and around metal pool drain covers.
This precious little boy will ultimately be fine…..after many days of oral pain medication and routine bandage changes (some of which will actually be done as an outpatient at a burn unit). He will also never remember this.
So… this is a new warning for parents: watch out for the possibility of burns secondary to outdoor metal objects. This photo is quite telling and painful to look at! His mother called me today and sent a few new pictures with him smiling!