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Heat wave danger: Baby burned by scalding water from outdoor garden hose

Water sitting in a garden hose that's exposed to summer sun can reach up to 190 degrees.
by A. Pawlowski /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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As dangerous heat bakes parts of the country, doctors are reminding families about the risk of burns from a source they may not have considered: a water hose baking in the sun.

A 9-month-old boy in San Tan Valley, Arizona, was accidentally scalded in 2016 when scorching-hot water came out of an outdoor garden hose as his mom began to fill his baby pool, KNXV-TV reported.

"He had blisters all over the right side," Dominique Woodger told the station in June 2016. "All of it was peeling."

The boy reportedly received second-degree burns to about one-third of his body. Doctors told Woodger he would recover. She declined to be interviewed when TODAY recently contacted her for comment about how the boy is doing now, but her Facebook page is filled with photos of what appears to be a happy, healthy child enjoying his summer.

Water sitting in a garden hose that's exposed to summer sun can reach up to 190 degrees, said Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center in Phoenix.

"It doesn't reach boiling, but it does get almost there. It's about as hot as coffee coming out of the pot," Foster told TODAY. "A burn happens almost instantaneously at that temperature."

Children are particularly vulnerable because they tend to be outside and playing with water and hoses, plus their skin is thinner than that of adults so their burns are deeper, Foster added.

He warned that second- and third-degree burns caused by scalding water from outdoor hoses are common when temperatures rise above 100 degrees. Many communities have seen the mercury easily break through that threshold this summer. The temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, may reach 114 degrees this week.

Excessive heat watches and warnings were in effect Monday for millions of people living in portions of southern California, southern Nevada, western and southern Arizona, plus parts of interior Washington and Oregon as afternoon highs were expected to reach or exceed 100 degrees, the National Weather Service said.

Hot and humid air was also producing sweltering conditions in the Northeast, with the heat index approaching or exceeding 100 degrees Monday and Tuesday.

If you're dealing with extremely hot weather:

Try to avoid having water hoses outside at all, if possible, Foster advised.

If you do have to have them outside, make sure you drain them of water first. Or use a hose wheel so that water is emptied every time, he added. (Another reason not to drink water from a water hose is that snails can crawl inside it, potentially leading a person to catch a parasite called rat lungworm.)

If someone is hurt, burns that are smaller than the palm of your hand and are pink are probably OK to manage at home. Anything larger or deeper than that needs to be seen by a doctor, Foster said.

For immediate treatment, use cool water, not ice, to soothe the pain and help limit the extent of the burn.

In addition to the water hose burns Foster sees each summer season, the Arizona Burn Center also often treats people who have burned the soles of their feet while walking barefoot or have touched a metal object.

This is an updated version of a story originally published in July 2016.

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