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Burns from hot pavement, cars are up due to heat wave

Original Article :

The heat wave scorching the Southwest U.S. can be to blame for an uptick in admissions at a major burn center in Phoenix, Arizona. Doctors are cautioning those living in Phoenix, and other areas where temperatures are high, how to avoid burns and other heat-related dangers.

The Arizona Burn Center has seen its emergency department visits double during the current heat wave, including cases where people have burned their bare feet on the scalding pavement.

Sweltering temperatures in the Southwest

Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center, said this June is the worst the center has seen in 18 years. Most patients arrive with contact burns from touching hot car interiors or walking outside without shoes.

One child received contact burns after crawling through a doggy door onto the hot pavement, Foster said.

"Getting up to 120 really makes a difference," Foster said.

When temperatures hike up above 90, the potential for contact or scald burns increases significantly, Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, told CBS News.

Glatter offered some advice to avoid contact burns:

  • Always wear shoes or sandals when walking on pavement or pool decks, since a short period of contact can lead to a second-degree burn within seconds.

  • Be careful to avoid contact with metal parts or objects that have been in contact with the hot sun.

  • Avoid vinyl surfaces that have been baking in the sun. Vinyl seats in a car parked in the hot sun can reach temperatures above 150, and may cause burns to the legs, buttocks and back if not careful.

  • Wear a shirt and place a towel over a hot car seats and other hot surfaces where you plan to sit to protect against burns.

The Arizona Burn Center cases are among several hazards resulting from a heat wave that has plagued Arizona, Nevada and California, including deaths, increased wildfire risks and a water shortage in one community.

The heat wave brought a high of 119 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) in Phoenix on Tuesday. Las Vegas topped out at 117, and California has been broiling in triple-digit temps.

The county that is home to Las Vegas has had at least four confirmed heat deaths since Saturday. California has seen at least two heat deaths, and officials throughout the state are investigating four others.

Two California firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries they received while battling a blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains near Los Angeles.

Arizona has yet to report any heat-related deaths, although Maricopa County, the most populated, had 130 heat deaths last year -- a 15-year high.

Authorities declared a state of emergency in the Arizona community of Cordes Lake after its water supply dwindled amid increased consumption during the hot weather. Officials are asking people to reduce their use, trucking in supplies from nearby Prescott Valley and cutting off water from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Temperature in Phoenix shoots toward record-breaking 120

Fire officials in Arizona said the extreme heat could cause more fires to pick up. Firefighters are battling at least 15 wildfires, including one that forced an evacuation and damaged at least six buildings in a town south of Tucson known for its wineries.

In Phoenix, about 10 to 15 patients are treated at the burn center's emergency department on an average day, but about 25 to 30 people have come in daily since the heat wave rolled in this week, Foster said.

Patients of all ages and backgrounds are at risk, but children and the elderly are more susceptible because they may not be able to avoid or get out of trouble.

Sweltering temperatures can lead to a host of other health problems, including heat-related car deaths -- a risk for children, who should not be left in parked vehicles where temperatures can climb quickly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Even within only 10 minutes, temperature can rise by up to 19 degrees.

Other dangers include dehydration, heat cramps, heat rash and sunburn. Even young, healthy people can be at risk for heat-related illnesses, especially if they are exercising strenuously or playing sports during hot weather.

"It's important to reduce exertion when the heat index climbs and conserve your energy," Glatter said.

Glatter's additional hot weather advice:

  • Drink plenty of cool fluids.

  • Stay out of the sun from 10 am to 2 pm, when the sun is typically the strongest.

  • Stay indoors in air conditioning when possible.

  • Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing and a wide brimmed hat to block the rays of the sun.

  • Be especially careful about overheating when it's hot and humid. "Extreme heat combined with humidity can kill," Glatter said.

  • Wear sunblock.

Pets are vulnerable, too, and should be given plenty of water and a cool environment out of the sun, and they should not be left in cars.

"All it takes is one moment of carelessness," Foster said.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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