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Several summertime activities can lead to burns. The most common types of summer burns come from overexposure to the sun and injuries from fireworks and grilling. According to the American Burn Association, approximately 450,000 individuals sought treatment for burn injuries in 2013.

Sun Safety Tips

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Skin cancer is preventable with good skin protection. Regardless of race or ethnicity, everyone can be negatively affected by overexposure to the sun.

  • The sun is most hazardous from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunscreen is the best protection against the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunscreen reflects or absorbs the UV rays so the skin does not.
  • The skin types that are most likely to burn are also the most vulnerable to skin cancer.
  • Darker skin types make it harder to see cancerous skin spots.
  • Refer to this table for skin phototypes.

EPA Skin Phototypes

Skin PhototypeSkin ColorTanning and Sunburn History
1: Never tans, always burns Pale or milky white; alabaster Develops red sunburn; painful and swelling, skin peels
2: Sometimes tans, usually burns Very light brown; sometimes freckles Usually burns, pinkish or red coloring appears; can gradually develop light brown tan
3: Usually tans, sometimes burns Light tan; brown or olive; distinctly pigmented Rarely burns; shows moderately rapid tanning response
4: Always tans; rarely burns Brown, dark brown or black Rarely burns; shows very rapid tanning response
  • Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside every day to areas that are exposed to the sun, such as your face, hands, chest, neck and forearms.
  • Use a "broad-spectrum" sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Apply sunscreen generously.
  • Protect your eyes from sun exposure by using sunglasses with protection.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours. If sweating, in a pool, lake, or ocean, reapply sunscreen more often (every time you get out of the water and dry off).
  • Apply sunscreen frequently to children.
  • Keep babies out of sunlight.
  • Do not use sunscreen past its expiration date.
  • Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Seek shade.
  • Check skin monthly for abnormal, changing or new spots.

Firework Safety Tips

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 240 people go the emergency room each day during the weeks around Independence Day, July 4. More than half of fireworks-related injuries are burns. Many firework burns are on the hands and fingers (36 percent) or the head, face and ears (22 percent).

  • Check your neighborhood or area's firework rules and laws before setting off fireworks.
  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks.
  • Always provide adult supervision. Even sparklers can cause injuries.
  • Back up to a safe distance after lighting the firework fuse.
  • Do not try to relight fireworks or pick them up if they did not fully ignite.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at anyone.
  • Do not hold fireworks while they are lit and going off.
  • Keep water nearby in case of an emergency or fire.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never shoot fireworks off in a glass or metal bottle.
  • After fireworks are shot off and finished, pour water over them to ensure their disposal will not start a trash fire.

Grill Safety Tips

  • Only use propane and charcoal grills outside.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet back from the grill and do not leave them unattended around it.
  • Do not leave the grill unattended while it is lit.
  • Place the grill away from flammable objects, such as trees.
  • Keep a lid on the grill as much as possible.
  • Have emergency equipment nearby while grilling.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of reach of children.
  • When finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing of them.

Heat Safety Tips

  • Stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and drink some every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Drink extra water if you have been sweating all day.
  • Find shade as often as possible.
  • When working outside, take breaks often.
  • Wear protective, light-colored clothing to wick away sweat and stay cool.
  • Do not leave children or animals alone in vehicles.



Injury Prevention

For more information, please call MU Health Care’s injury prevention outreach program at 573-884-6381.

Nurses After Hours Contact

Nurses are available for after-hours health questions by calling Health Connect at 573-884-2401.


Trauma Transfers


Burn, Emergency General Surgery or Critical Care Transfers


General Surgery Referrals


Grill with Caution

David Chang, MD, explains a grilling hazard often overlooked: wire-bristle brushes.