As a Burn Injury Attorney, I’ve seen the devastating effects of burn injury firsthand. Burn injuries are catastrophic and life-altering for all involved. It is important to know what you can do if this happens to you or a loved one.
This blog post will provide information on the different types of burns, how they happen, and who is at risk for them. The post will also discuss resources available for those in need as well as steps people can take to avoid these tragedies from happening in their own homes.
Last year over 3 million Americans sustained burn victims charities out of which half were children under five years old! That means that 1 out of every 4 cases was an infant or toddler! As with any accident involving children, it is often the parents who are either present or absent during the incident. This is why it is so important to know how to prevent these accidents in your own home and what you should do if they happen to you.
Burn injuries are among the most devastating types of trauma and require immediate medical attention before permanent damage is done to the skin, muscle, and other inner tissues.
The CDC statistics show that 5,000 burn injuries result in death every year in America! This makes it the third most common cause of injury-related deaths in the country — only after car accidents and guns.
Burns usually leave victims with long-term disabilities including permanent scarring. They can also result in permanent loss of function and mobility, as well as enormous psychological distress.
Burn injuries are one of the leading causes of disability and death among children. In 2007, almost 5,000 children aged 14 years or younger were admitted to US hospitals for burn-related injuries; 60% of those victims were under age five.
Between 1992 and 2002, more than 300 children died from burns.
The majority of burn injuries result from residential fires. In 1995 alone, home heating equipment caused 16,300 reported house fires; about 32% of these resulted in death or injury to one or more people.
Burns may also result from faulty heating or cooking appliances (the leading cause of residential fire injuries), vehicle crashes, scalding liquids or steam, flammable clothing that catches on fire, and intentional acts of violence.
Most of these burns are preventable (see Prevention).
What Causes Burns?
Burns are classified as either thermal (heat-related) or flame (flame-related) injuries. Thermal burns are caused by high temperatures that damage body tissues. They can also result from exposure to hot liquids, hot gases, or flames. Flame burns are caused by heat and gases are given off by burning materials.
Both types of burns cause damage to the skin and underlying tissue. The degree of injury depends on how deeply the burn penetrates into the skin and other tissues.
Burns are generally classified as follows: First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin (epidermis). They cause pain and redness, but they do not blister or cause permanent damage. Second-degree burns go a little deeper into the skin and can cause swelling of tissue and blisters. Third-degree burns go through all layers of skin into the tissues below. They are often painless because they destroy the sensory nerve endings.
Fourth-degree burns are full-thickness burns that burn down to and damage or destroy, bone, tendon, ligament, etc. These types of burns usually also cause severe scarring due to the destruction of tissue beneath the skin.
Burns are classified on the basis of their depth. The depth of a burn is determined by how far the heat has penetrated into the skin and tissues beneath. A first-degree burn, or superficial burn, only affects the epidermis (outermost) layer of skin. Second-degree burns extend into the dermis (middle layer), and third-degree burns extend into the subcutaneous tissue (the deepest layer). Burn injuries are typically classified as first, second, or third-degree depending on how much of the injured person’s skin has been damaged.
Fourth-degree burn injuries are full-thickness injuries that extend through all three layers of the skin and sometimes down to the bone. If a victim has suffered a fourth-degree burn or if they were burned at a very high temperature, their survival is dependent on prompt medical treatment and advanced wound care techniques. As with other types of serious burns, areas affected by fourth-degree burns should be kept moist with sterile saline solution or other gentle wound cleansers.