Ah, summertime is here! This time includes relaxing at backyard cookouts, enjoying longer days with outdoor playtime and celebrating summer holidays with family and friends. Summer’s outdoor activities and celebrations often involve spending more time in the sun and using fireworks.

It is no coincidence that area ERs see an increase in fire and heat-related visits during summer months. Read about 5-year old Shelby’s story and learn some simple tips from the affiliated physicians at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to help your family avoid injuries and beat the heat this summer. Fun-in-the-sun should be just that, fun!

Burn Patient’s Mom Stresses Fireworks Safety

Mother and child watching fireworksWhen it comes to celebrating the holidays with fireworks, Casey takes her daughter’s safety very seriously. “As a parent, you try to take every precaution to keep your child safe,” she says, “but unfortunately accidents happen.”

Last Fourth of July, Casey’s 5-year-old daughter, Shelby, was celebrating at home with family and friends when tragedy struck. At nightfall, the group ventured outside to participate in their own firework show. Shelby and her family members sat in the bed of a pickup truck parked a safe distance from the site where the fireworks were being lit. In the uneven field, however, one of the lit fireworks fell over, striking Shelby in the chest and catching on fire the jacket she was wearing. As a result, Shelby suffered second and third degree burns to her right arm, neck, chest, left shoulder and left arm.

Shelby was taken directly to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, where she was treated by affiliated surgeon Todd Huzar, MD, Director of Pediatric Burn Surgery at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Dr. Huzar was able to repair the burns on her chest by performing multiple skin grafts, where healthy skin is transplanted to the affected area.

“Throughout our stay, the nurses, physicians and entire staff took great care of Shelby, working continuously as a team to help her get better,” says Casey. “After going through something traumatic, I was so appreciative of how attentive they were to Shelby and our entire family.”

In December 2017, Casey returned to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to speak about fireworks safety. “Holidays like the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve will always be bittersweet for us,” she says. “But I am grateful for my daughter’s caregivers who continue to care for Shelby. She is now active and plays like a normal kid, despite her injuries.”

Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Tips for Avoiding Burns This Summer

Dr. Huzar says each summer, particularly around the holidays, as the temperatures rise, so do the number of burn cases in the ER. To help keep your child safe, follow these important tips:

  1. Leave fireworks to the professionals. Attend one of the many public fireworks displays around the city instead of hosting your own fireworks show.
  2. Avoid the sparkler temptation. They are pretty and seem harmless, but they are dangerous. Sparks from a sparkler can reach up to 3,000°F, plenty hot enough to cause severe burns or ignite clothing.
  3. Keep kids away from outdoor grills, firepits and campfires. Create a three-foot safe zone around them.
  4. Properly dispose of charcoal or ash from a grill or fire. They can ignite or, if stepped on, burn feet (as can hot pavement – remember to always wear shoes when going outside!).
  5. Limit sun exposure and liberally use sunscreen. Avoid exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and apply – and frequently reapply – at the minimum, SPF 50 sunscreen on all exposed skin.

By following these simple tips, you and your family can enjoy a burn-free summer. If a burn does occur, however, the best thing to do is seek medical assistance. Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, located in the Texas Medical Center, offers the only pediatric burn program in Houston.

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