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Sidewalk, contact burns a real concern with extreme heat

With temperatures expected to topple 120 in the Southwestern U.S., officials are warning that sidewalks and other surfaces are too dangerous to touch.
Sidewalk, contact burns a real concern with extreme heat
Posted at 10:29 AM, Jul 17, 2023

This week's temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degrees in much of the Southwestern United States, bringing the hottest conditions of the year. In some regions, it could be the hottest conditions felt in decades, the National Weather Service warned.

The extreme heat causes dozens of people every year to suffer from burns to their feet and similar type of contact burns.

According to the Arizona Burn Center, it treated 85 people for contact burns last year. Out of the 85 people treated for sidewalk and other contact burns, one out of three needed intensive care, and seven people died from their injuries. 

Officials also said many of the patients were hyperthermic, meaning their body temperatures increased to dangerously high levels. 

SEE MORE: What's the cost of an extreme hot summer?

When temperatures exceed 100 degrees, the Arizona Burn Center says surface temperatures can be even hotter.

"The Arizona Burn Center treats an alarming number of patients with life-threatening burns from Arizona’s extreme heat. These injuries are serious but preventable," said Dr. Kevin Foster, Arizona Burn Center director. "External surface temperatures can reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and deep cutaneous burns can happen with only brief contact. Exposure often occurs in patients with impairments that prevent them from quickly removing themselves from such contact, leading to severe injury."

The Cleveland Clinic offers tips for those suffering from contact burns. Burns smaller than the palm of the hand can be treated at home if it is not causing blistering, deep redness, breaking of the skin, a wet or shiny appearance or white and charred skin. Treatments include:

- Cleaning with mild soap and water

- Applying antibiotic ointment

- Covering with a non-stick dressing, such as gauze or cloth

- Using over-the-counter medicines to ease inflammation and pain

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