Stepping up safety: pediatric foot burns

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: May 8th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Warmer weather is just around the corner. But before you fire up the barbecue, roast marshmallows around a crackling campfire or burn yard debris, consider some common precautions to help snuff out a serious childhood health risk.

The same warm-weather activities that create lasting childhood memories are some of the leading causes of pediatric foot and ankle burns in the southeastern United States.

In what is thought to be the largest such evaluation to date, University of Florida burn experts found that sixty-nine percent of one-hundred-fifty-five pediatric foot and ankle burns they reviewed were caused by children walking on hot ashes, coals and embers. Some injuries occurred a day or more after fires were thought to be extinguished. Most youngsters were barefoot or wearing footwear that didn’t fully cover their feet, such as sandals.

The findings were published in the Journal of Burn Care and Research. Two-thirds of the ash burns occurred after children came into contact with burning yard waste or garbage, nearly a third were caused by campfires and six percent involved a barbecue.

About half the total cases studied… which also included scald, flame or contact burns… were classified as second-degree burns. More than a third were third-degree burns, the most serious type.

Burns can be easily prevented by using common sense. Parental supervision and wearing closed footwear are key. But the best form of prevention? Step up safety by learning how to extinguish fires appropriately.