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Playground dangers in hot weather

August 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Forty-thousand children go to the hospital with burn injuries every year -- scalded by the sun, hot stoves, fireworks and coffee. But what about getting burned on the playground? It happens more often than you think.Within seconds a child is up and down. A simple playground move can send you straight to the emergency room.

"I think if no one is watching you know, anything's possible," said father, Ryan Chao.

Amy Ruzicka keeps a close eye on the playground. A plastic slide gave her 2-year-old Andrew a big scare.

"Immediately upon going down the slide he started screaming. His hands were extremely red and he was rubbing them together. Within a few minutes he started blistering," said Amy Ruzicka.

At the hospital, doctors treated the toddler for second degree burns on his hands, legs and stomach.

"He was screaming in a lot of pain, eventually they had to give him morphine. Then they had to knock him out to perform a procedure to actually scrap the blisters off his hands so they could heal properly," said Ruzicka.

Children are much more sensitive to heat than adults. Burn experts say it doesn't take much for a child to get hurt.

"Children are like the elderly; their skin is very thin. They can sustain very severe burn injuries even at a very short amount of time at higher degrees," said Carrie Wilson, R.N. St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Any object that can reach 120 degrees can burn a child in seconds.

"Any kind of metal or plastic playground equipment, any kind of toy objects, those are all big safety concerns when dealing with children and different kinds of burn injuries," said Wilson.

Andrew's hands are healing, but his mom knows things could have been worse.

"We wanted to get the word out to everybody so it doesn't happen to anybody else," said Ruzicka.

If you read the small print, parks may warn parents to check for hot surfaces. That is something Ryan Chao always does.

"Well I think you can just do the hand test. Just feel things ahead of time and then if it's okay, let them run wide, if not bring them to another park," said Chao.

The mom in this story filed a complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- who then opened an investigation into plastic playground equipment.

The agency currently has a warning out to parents about metal slides, but there's no mention of plastic ones.

Web Extra Information:

PARENT ALERT: SLIDE SAFETY REPORT PLAYGROUND PERILS BURNING UP: Parents have a lot to be worried about these days. Between potential kidnappers to violent videogames, kids are growing up more quickly than ever before. But what if the playground, a place normally thought to be a child's safe haven, was just as dangerous as an abandoned dark alleyway? Turns out, the playground can be a risky place and it's not because of bullies, but because of plastic slides.

We all know that metal slides can burn children, but had you ever considered plastic? Any object that can reach 120 degrees can burn a child in seconds; Plastic slides can cause serious second-degree burns.

A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Saftey Common's Directorate for Epidemiology proved that about 250 children under the age of two were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with playground equipment. The study further explained that 60 percent of the injuries that were related to public playground equipment occurred in a public park and 63 percent of those injuries were related to slides. Carrie Wilson, R.N., burn expert at the St. Louis Children's Hospital told Ivanhoe that, "Children are like the elderly- their skin is very thin-they can sustain very severe burn injuries even at a very short amount of time at higher degrees."

Burns are so serious when they happen to young children because they cause a severe fluid loss, which does not occur to the same magnitude in adults.

WATCH OUT: There are many ways parents can prevent burn injuries before they happen, not only on the playground, but in general. Parents should check for hot surfaces on all playground equipment before allowing their young children to play on it. A child's age makes a huge difference in how safe an environment is; if your child is young, be alert and aware of possible burn hazards.

Six simple ways to avoid burns: 1). Do not leave your child alone in the kitchen or bathroom 2). Use back burners when cooking 3). Do not carry hot liquids near your child 4). Do not leave lighters of matches in a child's reach 5). Keep electrical cords out of reach, and install smoke detectors 6). Check toys on the playground before letting your child use them If your child does get burned, you should first remove your child from the source of the burn. If the burn is minor, soak it in cold water for up to twenty minutes. Put ice, butter or ointments on the burn area, but do not pop any formed blisters. If burns must undergo cleaning, seek help from a health care professional. By being more alert and knowledgeable about burns, you can avoid unnecessary, painful injuries.

 

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