Frequently Asked Questions: How Will My Burn Injuries Be Treated?
Burn injuries are among the most painful challenges our clients must face. They often occur as the result of workplace accidents and vehicle collisions. Other burns may be caused by defective equipment or products that overheat (or catch on fire) and then burn people. If you’ve suffered serious burn injuries due to another person’s negligence, our firm will fight hard to help you win the full compensation you deserve to cover all your medical expenses and other losses.
How common are burn injuries?
American Burn Organization statistics reveal that during one recent year, there were 3,390 civilian deaths due to fires. Of those, approximately 2,800 were caused by residential structure fires. Here are additional facts regarding our country’s major problem with preventing fires.
- At least one civilian dies in a fire about every two-and-a-half hours.
- Roughly one-fourth (25%) of all fire deaths involve children under the age of fifteen.
- Burn centers report that about 73% of their patients are injured in residential fires. Only eight percent (8%) of those treated in these centers suffer job-related burns.
- One study revealed that during one four-year period, emergency rooms treated close to 486,000 burns or fire injuries.
- In general, nine out of ten patients seen in emergency rooms for burn injuries can go home following treatment since they don’t require hospitalization.
- During 2016 when 3,390 civilian fire deaths were recorded, 355 of them were caused by vehicle fires.
- Young adults between the ages of 20 and 29 are about 1.5 times more likely than the rest of the population to suffer burn injuries.
- Every American has about one chance in 1,500 of dying due to personal exposure to flames, fire or smoke inhalation.
- Far more men than women suffer burns due to fires. This holds true regardless of whether treatment is provided in emergency rooms or burn centers.
Fortunately, improved treatments are now making it possible for approximately 96% of those treated in burn centers to survive. However, many of those coping with the worst burns may need extensive rehabilitation and care services for the rest of their lives.
The following information reviews the different degrees of burns and how they’re often diagnosed and treated. Additional material looks at how most people incur burns, the most common treatments available – and how we can all try to prevent fire and burn injuries.
How are burn injuries classified?
Most healthcare providers recognize three (or four) different burn levels. Here’s a basic description of each type that helps with proper diagnosis and treatment.
- First-degree burns. These are usually surface burns on the skin that can be rather painful. In some cases, the skin may turn a bright red color or be broken. When treated promptly and properly, these burns usually heal within a week.
- Second–degree burns. These burns can damage the entire top layer of skin, causing tremendous pain. However, if patient don’t develop infections, there’s still a chance that the skin may grow back. This deeper burn level often causes the top layer of skin to thicken to some degree.
- Third–degree burns. This level of injury can often destroy the entire top layer of skin and all the tissue layers underneath. And though this type of burn may look like it can heal naturally, immediate care is still crucial. Failing to obtain timely medical care can lead to death in rare cases – especially when infections develop, and the skin has become charred. Unfortunately, skin grafts are always required to try and heal these types of burns.
- Fourth–degree burns. While some doctors don’t use this term, others just reserve it for third-degree burns that have penetrated every skin level – all the way down into the person’s muscles. In the very worst cases, this type of advanced burn injury can even reach down into the patient’s bones.
In summary, when doctors are evaluating the skin of new burn patients, they look closely to see how far the tissue damage extends beneath the visible skin. Although many third-degree burn patients may sometimes still have visible fatty tissue left beneath the skin, fourth-degree burn patients usually only have scarred muscle tissue or bone visible beneath the severely damaged top layers of skin.
How do most people develop burn injuries?
Burn patients usually incur their injuries after immediate contact with flames of fire, scalding water (or other liquids), various forms of electricity and specific types of harmful chemicals. Here’s some additional information about each type of burn.
- Traditional burns usually involve direct contact with a harmful substance. People are just as likely to suffer burns due to contact with boiling water or actual flames — as those who regularly use a blow torch to weld objects together. Workplace supervisors must make sure all employees receive proper safety training when handling volatile substances.
- Steam burns. While pipefitters and plumbers must be especially careful when working around hot pipes, many others are at risk of incurring these types of injuries while working on construction sites. Steam burns can be very painful and often leave permanent scarring. It’s always important to make sure burn patients receive immediate medical treatment since this can sometimes lower the need for surgery.
- Electrical burns. Often incurred while working with overhead utility wires that haven’t been properly de-energized in advance, these types of burns cause people to suffer serious topical burns. In some cases, patients can also develop life-threatening internal injuries. It’s crucial for everyone handling any wiring to wear proper boots and gloves – whether at home or at work;
- Chemical burns. Employees must be trained to keep an eye out for these types of burns since they may not show up immediately. Great care must be taken when handling all types of cement and other building materials like solvents, acids, bases, oxidizers and similar chemicals. Workers must wear proper safety gear to protect their skin, eyes and lungs when working with these substances.
Safety guidelines must also be observed when working with paint thinners, industrial cleaners, hot tar and epoxy resins. When not used carefully, these substances can cause painful rashes, blisters and skin ulcers. During safety training sessions, all workers must be reminded to carefully wash their hands after each work shift – before eating a meal or changing their clothes to go home.
Safety tips for preventing burn injuries
- Fire drills should be mandatory. This applies to both work and home settings. If your employer doesn’t require at least one annual fire drill, voice your concerns about this need. At home, explain why your family should go through a “practice” fire drill so that everyone will understand where the closest exits are and how they should try to leave the structure – always checking to be sure everyone is awake and on their way to safety;
- Adequate numbers of fire extinguishers and hoses should always be kept on hand.
- Safety training on how to respond to fires should be required for all employees, at least once or twice a year.
- Businesses and homeowners should remove all excess brush and other foliage likely to burn too easily around offices or homes.
- Professional sprinkler systems should be installed in all ceilings. These can help put out or diminish fires once they start, after someone has placed an emergency call to the local fire department.
- All combustible materials and trash must be regularly picked up and disposed of around work sites. Daily pickups of these items can prove crucial.
- Special arrangements must be made, in advance, so that all disabled people can easily exit all offices and residential structures.
While not intended to be comprehensive, this list should help you improve the fire safety of many structures.
If you’ve suffered a serious burn injury due to someone else’s negligence, you need to immediately contact our New York City burn accident law firm. We’ll quickly investigate all the facts of your case and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available for all your injuries. It’s our goal to help you fully recover for all your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses and other losses.