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News / Health / Health Wire

Arizona heat wave so severe that people are getting serious burns from falling on the ground

By Associated Press
Published: July 25, 2023, 8:01am

It’s so hot in Phoenix that people are getting burned just from falling on the ground, a burn center said Monday.

Some of the burns have been potentially life-threatening, one doctor told CNN.

Emergency rooms in Maricopa County have been seeing patients with burns from falling on the ground, some of them with life-threatening injuries, the outlet reported.

“Summers are our busy season, so we anticipate that this sort of thing is going to happen. But this is really unusual — the number of patients that we’re seeing and the severity of injuries — the acuity of injuries is much higher,” Dr. Kevin Foster, director of burn services at Valleywise Health’s Arizona Burn Center, told CNN.

“The numbers are higher and the seriousness of injuries are higher, and we don’t have a good explanation for it.”

He added that the 45-bed burn center was full, with about 15 of the patients burned from falling on the ground. In addition about half the burn patients in the facility’s ICU were also burned after falls.

“External surface temperatures can reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and deep cutaneous burns can happen with only brief contact,” Foster said in a previous statement. “Exposure often occurs in patients with impairments that prevent them from quickly removing themselves from such contact, leading to severe injury.”

In a recent report, the burn center said it admitted 85 people with heat-related burn injuries in June, July and August 2022, and seven of them died. Some of those showed up hyperthermic, with body temperatures topping 108 degrees.

“Burns covered from 5 percent to 23 percent of the individuals’ bodies,” the center found. “Even though most patients did not have large burns, many were severely ill.”