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Amid summer heat, Arizona Burn Center sees rise in severe contact burns

Published: Monday, July 25, 2022 - 1:58pm
Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2022 - 9:05am
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On a summer day in Arizona, asphalt and other ground surfaces can get as hot as 180 degrees. As temperatures hover in the triple digits this summer, the Arizona Burn Center — Valleywise Health is reporting an alarming rise in contact burns.

"This is a really bad summer," said Arizona Burn Center Director Dr. Kevin Foster. 

Foster said if someone falls down on a hot surface and can’t get up right away, that can cause severe injuries within minutes.

“They end up not only getting really bad burns, but they suffer heat prostration and heat stroke," Foster told reporters Monday. "Oftentimes, their temperatures coming in are 108 or 109 degrees Fahrenheit.” 

Foster said those kinds of heat-related injuries can be bad enough to cause neurological damage. In some cases, the injuries can be fatal, Foster said. 

The Arizona Burn Center sees these cases every summer. In past years, patients have tended to be older adults who suffered falls. But Foster said this year has been unusual: the majority of patients have been younger, and their falls have in many cases been related to drug use.

"Right now we've got about 20 patients in the hospital with really bad injuries who have gone down for a variety of different reasons, but probably two-thirds of them have gone down because of drug use," Foster said. 

If you see someone who has fallen, Foster suggests getting them out of the sun and off the pavement right away. They should also seek medical attention.

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