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Burn Injury Awareness and Safety

Burn injuries are one of the most common household injuries and can range from mild to severe. However, traumatic burn injuries and burn-related infections cause 265,000 people worldwide to die each year. Being well-informed about different burns and how to treat them can not only dramatically affect the severity of the burn but could also save a life.

TYPE OF BURNS:

  • Thermal burns are the most common type of burn and are usually the result of a heat source like fire, steam, hot liquids, hot metal or other hot objects.
  • Chemical burns represent 3% of burn related injuries and occur when certain acids, alkaloids and other caustic chemicals come in contact with skin.
  • Electrical burns account for 4% of burn related injuries and occur as a result of an electric current passing through the body causing both external and internal injuries. Most of the damage occurs beneath the skin.

BURN INJURY RESPONSE

  • If your clothing or you catch on fire, “Stop, Drop and Roll” to suppress the flames.
  • Discard all burned clothing. If clothing is stuck to the skin, cut around the burned area.
  • Remove all bodily accessories (i.e. jewelry, belts, watches) from the burned areas.
  • Burned areas swell instantly, so removing items from around the neck is vital. ¬†
  • For chemical burns remove or dilute the chemical agent by irrigating with water.

IDENTIFICATION OF BURN SEVERITY

1st Degree Burns: Top layer of the skin.

  • Red
  • Painful to touch
  • Mild swelling

2nd Degree Burns: First two layers of skin

  • Deep reddening of the skin
  • Blisters
  • Glossy appearance from fluid
  • Painful
  • Potential loss of skin

3rd Degree Burns: Entire thickness of skin, permanent tissue damage

  • Skin layer loss
  • Many times this type of burn is painless (though victim may experience mild pain)
  • Dry and rough skin

FIRST AID

1st Degree Burns:

  • Apply a cool, wet compress to the burned area or submerge the area in cool water until pain is eliminated or significantly reduced.
  • Cover the burned area with a sterile bandage, avoiding creams, ointments or butter.
  • 1st degree burns don’t require medical attention unless the burned area is large, the victim is elderly or an infant, or if the burn becomes infected.

2nd Degree Burns:

  • Immerse in cool water or apply a wet compress for 10-15 minutes, dry and cover with a sterile cloth and gauze.
  • Avoid breaking any blisters.
  • Don’t apply creams, ointments or butter to the area.
  • Elevate burned limbs and if there are no injuries to the head, neck, back or legs you can lay the victim on his/her back with legs elevated and cover him/her with a blanket. This will help to prevent shock.
  • ¬†Professional medical treatment is required.

3rd Degree Burns:

  • Seek immediate professional medical attention.
  • Cover the burned area with a sterile cloth, gauze, or bandage and don’t apply creams, ointments or butter.
  • Take steps to prevent shock.
  • If the victim’s face is burned have him/her sit up and routinely check their breathing.
  • The burned area should be elevated above the victim’s head if possible and the victim should be kept warm.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

CDC Injury Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/masstrauma/factsheets/public/burns.pdf
American Burn Association: http://www.ameriburn.org/resources_factsheet.php
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-burns/basics/art-20056649

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