Kansas City is feeling the heat.
The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill has issued an excessive heat warning that’s in effect until 8 p.m. Saturday.
While people may be aware of the temperature outdoors, not everyone knows how hot surfaces out in the sun can get. So, the Star bought an infrared thermometer to measure the external temperature of some things everyone needs to be careful around while in the summer heat.
When temperatures rise above 90, the potential for contact or scald burns increases significantly. Dr. Richard Korentager, the chairman of plastic surgery and burns at the University of Kansas Health System, said one of the most common summer burns that he sees is from bare feet on hot pavement.
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When we measured our own parking lot’s blacktop on Thursday afternoon, it measured 144.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, human skin receives second-degree burns at 131 degrees and first-degree burns at 118 degrees. It’s important to always wear shoes or sandals when walking on hot pavement or pool decks, since a short period of contact can lead to a second-degree burn within seconds.
This applies to dogs as well; if the ground is too hot for human skin, then it’s probably too hot for a dog’s paws, too.
Children, because of their thin skin, and diabetics, because of a lack of sensation in their hands and feet, are more susceptible to contact burns in the heat, Korentager said. Hot cars are a common cause of these burns.
The Star measured the heat of a black car in the sun with its windows cracked and windshield shade in the front. It was about 108 degrees, in comparison to another black car in the heat with no protection, which measured at about 120 degrees.
The windshield shades clearly improved the impact of the sun’s rays, but ultimately, the coolest place to park a car is in a shaded area, where we measured a car’s interior at 98 degrees.
Small attempts to protect your car from the heat can make all the difference and can even save someone from burning themselves on the metal part of a seat belt buckle, the seats of the car or even the steering wheel.
When we measured the metal part of the seat belt buckle, the thermometer read 130 degrees, which can cause a second-degree burn. The steering wheel was almost the same at 133 degrees.
“We have to be extraordinarily careful during any of these hot times, especially with people who have the inability to feel things or, like a child, is unable to get themselves out of harm,” Korentager said.
Playgrounds may be too hot for kids during this heat wave.
We measured a metal slide and found it was around 130 degrees and even a bench for parents to watch their kids was 120 degrees.
Kansas City offers plenty of alternatives for indoor activities in the summer, like the movies, Science City in Union Station or Kaleidoscope in Crown Center.
Kansas City hasn’t reached 100 degrees since September 2013, and climbing temperatures may break that record this weekend. It’s important to keep cool during this excessive heat and remain aware that sun burns aren’t the only burns that people can get this summer.
Cooling centers will open their doors across the metro to help people escape the brunt of the heat wave. YMCA of Greater Kansas City announced that all of its locations are available Wednesday to Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for all those needing to cool down.