Burn Injuries | Electrocutions | Personal Injury
Burn Injury Information
In the United States, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are reported every year. Burns can be one of the most painful injuries one can sustain. Those who suffer from such injuries can face a lifetime of serious healthcare challenges. Last year, an estimated 650,000 burn injuries were treated by medical professionals. 75,000 of those injuries required hospitalization.
Several factors are used to determine the severity of a burn injury, including the patient’s age, size and depth of burn, and the location of the burn.
First Degree Burns
First-degree burns are red and very sensitive to touch, and the skin will appear blanched when light pressure is applied. First-degree burns involve minimal tissue damage and they involve the epidermis (skin surface). These burns affect the outer-layer of skin causing pain, redness and swelling. Sunburn is a good example of a first-degree burn.
Second Degree Burns
Second-degree burns affect both the outer-layer (epidermis) and the under lying layer of skin (dermis) causing redness, pain, swelling and blisters. These burns often affect sweat glands, and hair follicles. If a deep second-degree burn is not properly treated, swelling and decreased blood flow in the tissue can result in the burn becoming a third-degree burn.
Third Degree Burns
Third-degree burns affect the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, causing charring of skin or a translucent white color, with coagulated vessels visible just below the skin surface. These burn areas may be numb, but the person may complain of pain. This pain is usually because of second-degree burns. Healing from third-degree burns is very slow due the skin tissue and structures being destroyed. Third-degree burns usually result in extensive scarring.
Fire has been associated with 3 different types of inhalation injuries. More than a hundred known toxic substances are present in fire smoke. When inhalation injuries are combined with external burns the chance of death can increase significantly. The three types of inhalation injuries are:
- Damage from Heat Inhalation: True lung burn occurs only if you directly breathe in a hot air/flame source, or have a high pressure force the heat into you. In most cases, thermal injury is confined to the upper airways, because the trachea usually shields the lung from thermal loads. However, secondary airway involvement can occur after inhalation of steam as it has a greater thermal capacity than dry air. When hot air enters the nose, damage to the mucous membranes can readily transpire as the upper airway acts as a cooling chamber.
- Damage from Systemic Toxins: Systemic toxins affect our ability to absorb oxygen. If someone is found unconscious or acting confused in the surroundings of an enclosed fire, systemic toxins could be a possible cause. Toxin poisoning can cause permanent damage to organs including the brain. Carbon monoxide poisoning can appear symptomless up until the point where the victim falls into a coma.
- Damage from Smoke Inhalation: Smoke intoxication is frequently hidden by more visible injuries such as burns as a result of a fire. In a disaster situation can lead to not receiving the medical attention needed, due to the rescue teams taking care of the more apparent patients. Patients that appear apparently unharmed can collapse due to major smoke inhalation, 60% to 80% of fatalities resulting from burn injuries can be attributed to smoke inhalation.