The surprising summer danger for kids that's right in your backyard
It may not be officially summer, but it's definitely heating up already, particularly if you live in the South or Southwest, where we're already enjoying temperatures that are flirting with triple digits. When the sun creeps up to its highest position and you're sweating in the shade, there's nothing better than cranking the faucet on the garden hose and giving the kids a chance to cool off.
You may want to pump the brakes on that one, though. The water that's been sitting in your hose can pose a real danger to kids. One Arizona mom found this out the hard way when a hot water incident left her child with multiple second-degree burns on his body. Now she wants to make sure other parents know the dangers.
Dominique Woodger, who lives in San Tan Valley, Arizona, was just trying to fill up the baby pool in her yard so that her 9-month-old son could splash around in it and get a little relief from the hot sun. There was a sprinkler head attached to the hose, and when she turned on the water, it came through the sprinkler and sprayed her son, who was sitting next to it on the ground. Within moments he was screaming, and when Woodger went to him, she realized that the water was scalding hot. The baby was left with second-degree burns and blisters on half his body, a pretty agonizing injury.
Summertime always brings an uptick in the number of children brought to emergency rooms for accidental injuries; the combination of free time and outdoor playtime to pass the time means that ERs can see a 25 percent increase in visitors across the board, many of them kids. And while bicycle and trampoline injuries top the list, burns aren't far behind. That includes nasty sunburns and contact burns.
And while many of us hear "contact burn" and think of a kid stepping on a smoldering sparkler or bumping up against a grill, there's also the danger of getting those injuries from fairly innocuous-looking things like the hot pavement and, yes, even garden hoses.
That's because when water is left inside a hose — from watering with a sprinkler attachment overnight, for instance — it can heat up while it stagnates. Just like the temperature inside a car can ratchet up to unbelievable heights, the same can happen with a garden hose. When temperatures climb north of 90 degrees F, the stagnant water in a hose can jump to as much as 120 degrees. That's extremely hot and can and does result in severe burns if you touch it.
Burns are nothing to sneeze at. Whether they come from the sun, a sparkler or a sprinkler head, they hurt like the dickens and can make life extremely miserable for the smallest among us this summer. Prevention is always the best cure, and aloe will soothe the burn of a lobster-hued first-degree burn, but when the burn is severe enough to thicken, break or blister the skin, you shouldn't wait to seek medical attention.
That's when you're most likely to be dealing with a second-degree burn, which can be severe enough to need skin grafts in some cases. If the burn area is small enough, you should treat it immediately by running cool water over the burn for 15 minutes before you hit the ER.
Never use ice, since the burned skin is extremely delicate and that "remedy" can actually result in the dual injury of burn and frostbite. Other dubious remedies like rubbing butter on a burn should be avoided as well; they aren't proven to be effective and can increase the risk of infection at the wound site.
Then, get to a doctor. The larger the area affected by a burn, the more of an emergency it is, and this applies especially to places like the face and groin. When treated correctly, second-degree burns can heal in about three weeks with minimal scarring.
Fortunately there's an easy way to prevent the injury. If you're done with your garden hose, unhook it from the faucet if you can, and try to drain as much of the water in it as possible, or store it in a way that keeps it out of the sun and allows gravity to do the work of draining the hose. When you do turn on the water again, let it run for a few moments to force out any remaining hot water, and always test the temperature before letting kids or pets near the stream.
Just make it a part of the summer safety routine. Along with using bike helmets, sunscreen and life jackets, take a few minutes to make sure the water in your hose is at a safe temperature. Then let the kids have at it.
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