June 13, 2002

Summer Weather Brings More Than Sunburns --
Youths And Fire Hazards

The beginning of summer brings an unfortunate increase in some familiar kinds of patients to the UCSD Regional Burn Center—those with serious sunburns as well as severe burns caused by contact with hot coals buried in the sand at the beach.

The UCSD Regional Burn Center will treat children and adults with severe sunburns during the next four months. Even if the weather is not extremely hot, and overcast days, sunburn can occur. Additionally, sun rays can reflect off the water causing increased sensitivity to sun.

"Children and adults should avoid falling asleep at the beach and always apply sunscreen of 25 SPF or higher to prevent sunburn," said Daniel D. Lozano, M.D., UCSD Clinical Director of Burn Care.

"Additionally, the incidence of children, as well as adults, stepping or falling on burning coals at the beach and bay has increased dramatically over the years," said Lozano. "Kids hit the beach running and before they realize it they are walking or falling on hot coals left buried under the sand. Parents should always keep a watchful eye on toddlers and children, and adults should be cautious of fire rings or fire pits and avoid these areas when playing at the beach."

Hot coals buried in the sand can retain an intense heat for up to 24 hours. Anyone who walks or falls on the hot coals can be severely burned and can sustain life-threatening burns. Hot coals should always be disposed of in designated containers at the beach.

Fireworks also pose a danger. Although they are illegal in San Diego County, fireworks are fascinating for young children. Fireworks, especially purchased in Mexico, are extremely dangerous. Small fireworks called "poppers" can explode in a child's pocket and set the child's clothes on fire and result in serious burns.

Burn Center LogoThe UCSD Regional Burn Center has treated more than 5,700 patients since established in 1973 and treated more than 440 patients in 2000. The Burn Center staff is a team of highly trained physicians, nurses and health professionals dedicated to the care of burn patients.

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Media Contact:
Eileen Callahan
619-543-6163

UCSD Health Sciences Communications HealthBeat:  http://health.ucsd.edu/news/