What is a Burn?
Burns are a group of conditions that result in the removal of the skin primarily due to exposure or contact with high temperature (thermal burns), volatile substances (chemical burns), and high electrical voltage (electrical burns). These conditions can lead to serious, long-term injuries or disabilities to victims. Usually, cases of burns are associated with disasters and mass casualties, such as fires and explosions. However, they can also occur in residences, workplaces and in any other places. It is crucial that every person knows how to behave safely in case of fire situations or disasters, as well as the principles of first aid and management of burn victims. As in any other injury, the immediate care is essential for saving the life of the victim.
What You Need To Know?
It is estimated that more than 2 million cases of burns, including 450,000 children, are recorded in the United States every year. On average, someone gets injured in a fire every 30 minutes, and someone dies every 135 minutes in the US. Around half of these cases require medical attention, including 50,000 that necessitate hospitalization and rehabilitation. Mortalities due to burn injuries are estimated to be around 15,000 every year. Burns in children and the elderly are usually more severe and have higher mortality rates than in adults; this is because of their compromised thermoregulation.
Majority of burn injuries occur in the workplace. Although 60 percent of Americans do have an escape plan and most buildings comply with fire safety regulations, only 25 percent are actually practised on a regular basis. This is one reason why there are still many cases of burn injuries and mortalities associated with fire.
What You Should Do?
What you during the first few minutes after the burn occurs can have a huge impact on the prognosis for burn victims. Initially, you should try to extinguish or contain the fire or source of heat, and ensure the safety of the victim. However, the responses may vary depending on the type of burn sustained.
- Thermal (fire, hot object, steam, hot/flammable liquids or radiation). Stop the flame, roll the victim to the ground and cover the fire with wet cloth or blanket. Remember: “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”
- Electrical (high- and low- AC/DC voltage). Do not attempt to touch the victim if you are not trained to do so. Have a trained electrician remove the electrical power source before touching the victim and transferring to safety.
- Chemical (strong alkali or acids substances). Irrigate the chemical using copious amounts of water and remove contaminated clothing. As much as possible, avoid direct contact with the chemical or wear protective clothing. Call 911 or a first aider who is trained in treating chemical fire.
In all types of burns, you must remove tight clothing, jewelry, belts, rings, neck tie, etc. from the affected areas and from the victim’s neck. Burns can cause swelling immediately after the injury.
Once safety is ensured, continue to assess the airway, breathing and circulation of the victim. Call 911 or your local emergency services for assistance.
Related Video on Treating Basic Burns