Memorial Day is the traditional start of summer, which means time with family and friends in the sun.

Whether it is grilling safety or the proper use of sunscreen, the team at the Burn Center at EIRMC and Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America wants you to have a safe holiday.

“We know that as people begin emerging from quarantine, we will see more injuries,” said Dr. Tait Olaveson, medical director of the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho. “We just hope people have not forgotten how to stay safe during the last year.”

One of the most important ways to avoid sunburn is the use of sunscreen, Olaveson said. Make sure you are using sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, and remember that it should be applied 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied regularly, especially if you are sweating profusely or spending time in the water.

Sunscreen isn’t appropriate for children under six months of age, and all children under one year old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin, as well as the skin of older people, is thinner than an adult’s skin, and more susceptible to getting burned. In general, everyone should avoid tanning for long periods, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“Sunburns can be very dangerous for children and older residents because their skin is thinner than an adult’s skin,” said Olaveson. “This makes it easier for them to not only get burned, but get burned quicker and deeper.”

The start of summer also means grilling season for many, which should always include an extra serving of caution on the menu. It starts with setting up a safe, well-ventilated area for the grill that includes a no-kid zone.

“It’s not just the grill surface that can be hot,” Olaveson said. “The food you are cooking and the utensils you use can also cause a burn.”

June sees, on average, the second highest amount of grill fires every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Though gas grills are typically more dangerous, both gas and charcoal grills can be responsible for burn injuries as wells as home, structure, and outdoor fires.

To stay safe, Olaveson recommends:

  • Keeping your grill at least 10 feet away from your house, bushes, or other flammable materials.
  • Never, ever using a match to check for leaks.
  • Finding leaks by spraying soapy water on gas line connections. If you see water bubbles, there is a leak.
  • Never using an accelerant such as gasoline to light a grill, bonfire or debris pile. Gas fumes can ignite and cause a large explosion.
  • Being careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid on an already lit fire because the flames can flashback up into the container and explode.
  • Never trying to light a gas grill with the lid closed, as trapped gas or fumes could cause an explosion.
  • Always wearing short sleeves and/or tight-fitting clothing while grilling.
  • Using utensils with long handles to stay clear of hot surfaces.
  • Always shutting off the propane tank valve when not in use.
  • Disposing of hot coals properly: Soak with water, then stir and soak again to make sure the fire is out.

So what happens if you do get burned?

First, check for blisters, as they are signs of a more serious burn and could require emergency medical treatment. If there are blisters, try not to burst any of them. You should make sure there is no swelling of the injured area that could affect breathing, swallowing and/or circulation.

“If you have any swelling, infection or complications, go to the hospital,” said Olaveson. 


The largest medical facility in the region, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) is a full-service hospital with over 300 patient beds. It serves as the region’s healthcare hub, serving Idaho, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park and Montana. EIRMC is a Level II Trauma Center; Level I ICU; operates the only Burn Center in the state of Idaho; has the only pediatric intensive care unit and Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the region; runs the most robust Heart Center in the region; and is a Joint Commission Primary Stroke Center.  EIRMC provides valued and vital resources to the communities it serves. 

About Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America

BRCA is the largest network of burn care in the United States with 16 locations in 9 states. Each year, our centers treat more than 20 percent of the nation’s burn patients. For more information, visit our website at or visit our social media accounts on Facebook or LinkedIn.