Falling Down in Arizona Can Cause Severe Burns

Doctors are seeing a spike in injuries during heat wave
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2023 7:21 PM CDT
In Arizona Heat, Falling Down Can Cause Burns
A thermostat reads over 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the car of AP photographer Matt York, Friday, July 21, 2023, in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

As Arizona continues to swelter under a record-breaking heat wave, doctors are seeing a surge in patients who have been burned just by coming into contact with the ground. Dr. Kevin Foster at the Arizona Burn Center at the Valleywise Health hospital in Phoenix tells CNN that the number of patients and the severity of injuries is much worse than usual this year. "The temperature of asphalt and pavement and concrete and sidewalks in Arizona on a warm sunny day or summer afternoon is 180 degrees sometimes. I mean, it's just a little below boiling, so it's really something," he says.

Foster says the 45-bed burn unit is full and around a third of the patients—and more in the ICU—were burned after falling down. He says it can take a "fraction of a second" to get a "pretty deep burn" when bare skin meets a hot surface, and people who have been on the asphalt for longer can end up with third-degree burns more commonly seen in house fire survivors. Other doctors say the burn patients they have treated include elderly people who fell over and people who passed out while working outside.

In Phoenix, where the temperature has reached at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit for a record 26 days and counting, some relief might finally be in sight, the AP reports. "It seems unlikely we'll see over 110 every day through the end of the month," says meteorologist Isaac Smith, of the National Weather Service in Phoenix. "We are expecting to see the highs fall through this weekend, with chances for monsoon rains rising to 40-50%." (More heat wave stories.)

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