The sun is beating down, the pool is cold and refreshing, and the aroma of juicy hamburger patties and chicken is rising from the grill – it’s officially the start of summer! Whether you only grill on holiday weekends, or your diet practically consists of grilled meats and veggies all season long, it’s always important to follow a few safety measures. Ramsey Stone, MD, emergency physician at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital – Plano gave us a few pieces of advice on how to avoid getting burned and what to do if are injured while grilling this season.
“To prevent burns, keep hot items away from edges or on other items that can fall,” said Stone. “You can get burned by hot prongs falling on you or if you try to grab them while falling. Also, make sure to keep children away from the grill area and you when you are walking back and forth with hot items.”
Typically, burns from a grill will only be minor and can be treated without seeking immediate medical attention. For small, minor burns, Stone recommends first removing any clothing, jewelry or debris in the way of the burn. Next, try to cool the wound for a short period of time using cool water or a wet towel (he typically recommends avoiding long periods of cooling). Afterward, cleaning the wound is essential. Stone suggests washing it with mild soap and water. Finally, add a dressing if the burn goes deeper than the top layer of skin. He recommends Aloe Vera cream or an antibiotic cream, followed by a nonstick dressing.
If you happen to get severely burned by the grill or other hot item, Stone recommends seeking attention at the closest emergency department. “Typically deep burns on the hands and feet are taken a bit more seriously given the potential for disability given the location,” he said.
Some usual rules for seeking medical attention include a burn that appears very deep (if the burned skin is white, gray or black), if the burn is on the hands, feet, genitals or face, if it covers a large surface area of more than several inches across, and if it is across joints. Another thing Stone wants you to remember is the potential for tetanus infection with burns. “If your tetanus immunity is not up to date – if your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago – this needs to be urgently addressed with burns deeper than superficial burns,” said Stone.
Grilling should always be fun and delicious. However, if your skin is getting burnt instead of the hamburgers, it’s important that you take the time to properly take care of yourself. Keep Stone’s precautions and treatment recommendations in mind next time you grill for a more enjoyable, safer experience. Have a happy grilling season!