What You Need to Know About Burn Injuries

Burn Injuries

Burns and fires are a common cause of accidental death in children and adults, accounting for an estimated 3,500 adult and child deaths per year. Contact burns and scalding injuries cause the majority of burn injuries. Burns can range from minor medical problems to life-threatening injuries, leaving a victim with not just physical scars but emotional trauma as well.

Burn injuries affect everyone; however, young children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.

  • Most burns that occur in children younger than age 5 are scald burns from hot liquids.
  • Over half of all burns occur in the 18- to 64-year-old age group.
  • Older adults are at a higher risk for burns, mostly scald burns from hot liquids.


Classifying Burn Injuries

The seriousness of a burn is determined by the depth, size, cause, affected body area, age and health of the victim.

burn injuries contact burns physical scars emotional traumaAs most people may know, burns are classified as first-, second- and third-degree burns.

  • First-degree burns occur on the top or outer layer of the skin (called the epidermis). These are the least serious and tend to cause redness, swelling and some pain, but no blisters.
  • Second-degree burns affect the epidermis (outer layer) as well as well as the dermis (lower layer of skin) causing red, white or splotchy skin, swelling and blisters
  • Third-degree burns, the most serious, involve all layers of the skin as well as the underlying fat. It is also possible that the muscle and bone can be damaged. These burns are the deepest and result in white or blackened, charred skin.

Burns and Wounds, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Causes of Burn Injuries

scalding injuries burns and fires life threatening injuriesBurns can be the result of many things:

  • Hot liquid or steam
  • Hot metal, glass and other objects
  • House fires
  • Frostbite
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Kitchen accidents
  • Electrical currents and malfunctions
  • Radiation from x-rays or other radiation therapy
  • Chemicals (lye, paint thinner, gasoline)

Breathing in hot air or gases can cause inhalation injuries to the lungs and if the gases are toxic (think carbon monoxide), it can lead to poisoning.

Preventing Burn Injuries

Since most burn injuries happen at home, here are a few preventative measures you can put into place.

  • Keep children out of the kitchen while cooking.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
  • Place a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen.
  • Keep water heater temperature under 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lock up matches and lighters.
  • Install electrical outlet covers.
  • Check and discard electrical cords with exposed wires.
  • Keep chemicals out of reach, and wear gloves during chemical use.
  • Ensure all smoking products are stubbed out completely.

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If you have questions about the negligence of others leading to burn injuries, contact the lawyers at Nash & Franciskato for a free, no-obligation review of your case.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published July 11, 2017. It was reviewed on January 26, 2023 and updated for content and accuracy.

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