Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Telephone: 412-586-9762
Senior Director
Telephone: 412-586-9771
Patient & Other Inquiries

Tips to Keep Your Summer Sizzling, but Safe!

PITTSBURGH, July 1, 2015 – For many, the Fourth of July is a day of parades, barbeques, pool parties, fireworks and family fun. For many others, the day includes pain and hospital visits. Fireworks are spectacular to watch, but should be handled by professionals only. Decades of tragic experiences prove that fireworks are too dangerous to be used by amateurs. Many injuries from fireworks often occur in young people and all those injuries can be prevented.
“Each year we see many people, especially children and teens, injured around the Fourth of July celebrations. Many of the injuries involve an amputation of a limb or loss of vision,” said Jenny Ziembicki, M.D., medical director, UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers. “It should be remembered that no consumer fireworks should ever be considered safe and that all fireworks should be left to the hands of trained professionals.”
The UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers want you and your family to be safe this summer and offer these tips.

Fireworks Safety

  • Though they may be popular with kids, sparklers are very dangerous—and are not toys!  They may look harmless, but they reach temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees—the same as a blow torch! A temperature this high easily burns skin and can create permanent, devastating injuries.
  • Teach your children that fireworks are explosive devices — DON’T TOUCH! Kids should get an adult if they find an unspent firework. The adult should then notify the local fire or police department.  Fireworks injuries can result in blindness, scarring and amputations of fingers and hands.
  • It’s just too dangerous to be around fireworks. If you are around someone who wants to use fireworks, leave the area and suggest they go to the public showing instead.

What to do if you are injured:

  • Immediately stop the burning process with clean, cool water and wrap with a clean, dry towel. Do not use ice or apply any ointments.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
This summer safety infographic includes these fireworks safety tips and others about grilling and fire pits.
Additional summer-fun safety tips include the following.

Inflatable Bouncer Safety

There have been many recent news stories about injuries related to inflatable bouncers such as bounce houses and moon walks being picked up and carried away by the wind. They are popular at children’s birthday parties and summer carnivals. While they can be a source of fun and entertainment for children, they also can lead to serious injuries, such as broken bones and concussions.
“Bounce houses are a fun activity for children, but require appropriate adult supervision,” said Barbara Gaines, M.D., director of trauma and injury prevention at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “They should always be secured according to manufacturer’s specifications, and children should not play in the houses during inclement weather or when there are high winds. Adult supervision is always required, and the number of children playing in the house should be limited. In addition, children in the house should be relatively the same size and weight, and there should be an adult at the entry/exit location.”
According to the Child Injury Prevention Alliance (CIPA), the number of injuries associated with inflatable bouncers treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. in the past 20 years, has skyrocketed, and now equals more than 30 children a day, or about one child every 45 minutes. CIPA offers these tips:
Injury Prevention Tips
  • Limit bouncer use to children 6 years of age and older.
  • Only allow a bouncer to be used when an adult trained on safe bouncer use is present.
  • The safest way to use a bouncer is to have only one child on it at a time.
  • If more than one child will be on the bouncer at the same time, make sure that the children are about the same age and size (weight).

Proper Use

  • Take off shoes, eyeglasses and jewelry and remove all sharp objects from your pockets before entering the bouncer.
  • No rough play, tumbling, wrestling or flips.
  • Stay away from the entrance or exit and the sides or walls of the bouncer while you are inside of it.
  • If the bouncer begins to lose air, stop play and carefully exit the bouncer.

Lightning Safety

Lightning strikes cause hundreds of permanent disabilities each year. Knowing what to do when caught in a storm is crucial to injury prevention.
  • If you have no nearby shelter or vehicles, move from hills or peaks, and get to a level or valley area.
  • Never lie flat on the ground, and do not use a tree or cliff for shelter.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as wire fences and power lines, and move away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • If you are with a group of people, spread out.
  • Do your best to plan ahead and avoid the storm, and remember, no place outside is safe when storms are in the area!

Summer Water Sports

On hot summer days, there is no better way to cool off, exercise and have fun than to participate in water sports such as waterskiing, diving, jet skiing, snorkeling, surfing, or parasailing. A person may be an expert in the sport, or they may be a novice. Either way, UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers urges every water sport athlete take these safety precautions:
  • Learn how to swim by taking real swimming lessons.
  • While boating or swimming in open water, always wear a life jacket. No matter the person’s skill level at the sport or swimming, they need to wear one. If someone is unconscious due to an injury, the life vest will keep them afloat and help them survive.
  • Never go out into the water alone.
  • Watch children constantly. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14. Children can get into trouble very quickly and generally are not as strong swimmers as adults.

Pool Safety

During the sweltering summer months, nothing feels better than a dip in the pool. But when your child’s swimming, are you watching constantly, or do you occasionally run inside for a snack? Young children don’t splash or make much noise when in danger in water, so they often drown in silence. In fact, in nearly 9 out of 10 child-drowning deaths, a parent or caregiver claimed to be watching the child. A couple minutes could cause a tragedy. UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers reminds you to be in arm’s reach of your child at all times, whether they are in or near the water. If they’re a little older, take swimming lessons together. If the pool’s at your home, build a fence to separate the pool from the home.

The Dangers of a Heat Stroke

There is a reason that people recommend that strenuous activity take place early in the morning or later in the evening during the hot and humid summer months. Not only can you stay cooler, it could prevent a heat stroke. A heat stroke is life-threatening and can happen quickly, with a person’s body temperature rising over 104 degrees. Some ways to avoid heat stroke are:
  • Always drink water or sports drinks before, during and after exercise or sports activities.
  • Take frequent breaks to rehydrate, and drink fluids (except coffee, alcohol, and tea) even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Wear lightweight clothing that can breathe while outdoors.
If you come upon someone that is experiencing symptoms similar to those of a heart attack, such as high body temperature, rapid pulse, confusion and difficulty breathing, they may be suffering from a heat stroke. Get the person to a shady area and apply cool water to the skin. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

Lawn Mower Injuries

According to The American Trauma Society, Pa division, 68,000 people suffer lawn mower injuries each year. More than 9,000 of those injuries affect people under 18.
  • While on a riding mower, never allow children to be passengers. Injuries usually involve children falling off someone’s lap.
  • Never leave a mower unattended while it’s running.
  • Young children should never operate a lawn mower and should be at least 16 before operating a riding mower.
  • Pick up stones and toys and make sure children are away from the lawn before mowing.
  • To protect yourself, always wear sneakers or boots, not sandals. Keep your family safe this summer.
For more information, contact UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Services at 412-232-8375.

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |