By Carla L Davis

Excessive heat conditions are the norm for Southern states in the summer months of July and August, it is for Texas in particular. For two months, millions of people have been under Heat Advisory alerts. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) documented that July 3, 2023, was the official hottest day on the planet with a  record-breaking temperature of 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This surpassed the July 2016 and  July 2022 record temperatures of 62.4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Reports state that the Dallas Fort Worth area has experienced temperatures of 100 degrees plus for 29 days this summer.  These dangerous temperatures can cause severe sunburn, heat exhaustion, or even worse heat stroke. Health officials are experiencing more thermal burn cases due to the excessive heat temps. Many people are having to seek medical treatment for contact burns also known as Thermal burns from touching excessively hot surfaces.  Thermal burns are due to external heat sources which raise the temperature of the skin and tissues and cause tissue cell death or charring. Hot metals when coming in contact with the skin, can cause such burns. 

Established in 1962, the Parkland Burn Center treats more than 2.000 burn victims annually. But with the intense temperatures this summer, the center is seeing multiple patients weekly seeking medical treatment for 2nd-degree or 3rd-degree thermal burns. A lot of these injuries are sustained from touching or falling on scalding hot surfaces. Parkland Burn Center Physician Assistant  Samantha Delgado says, “Some of the  most vulnerable are children, the elderly, and those with diabetes.” 

Delgado warns parents to remember when they are taking their kids to the park that those surfaces have been baking under the sun for hours and are holding a lot of heat. Playing outside or getting out of the pool barefoot could also cause serious burns on the soles of their feet, making water shoes a poolside necessity this summer.    

Those who are considered fall risks such as seniors need to be careful. A couple of moments on the blistering pavement could cause excessive burning as their skin is fragile and will burn and blister very easily. Neuropathy causes numbness in the hands and feet of many who suffer from diabetes. Having the loss of sensation could easily cause severe burns on the hands if they grab the door handle of a car that has been exposed to the sun for hours. 

Thermal burns can be minor and be treated at home  For minor burns health officials recommend 

  • Cool the burn with cool (not cold) running water for 10 minutes:
  • Remove clothing or jewelry from the affected area.
  • Don’t apply lotions and oils or break blisters — this can cause an infection.
  • Use antibiotic creams and loosely bandage the burn area.

If your injuries are more severe experts suggest seeking medical attention immediately so that the burns can be assessed for severity and recommend the best course of treatment as untreated burns can become severely infected.  Delgado says people should be more aware of their surroundings when out in the summer heat. The grocery cart that’s been in the sun, playground equipment, metal buckles on car seats, or even the door handle on a vehicle can cause severe Thermal burns.