National Burn Awareness Week: Protect Yourself Against a Common, Terrifying Danger: Burn Injuries

It’s Burn Awareness Week, a time to reflect on key fire and safety issues. Every year, nearly 500,000 in the U.S. and Canada get burned so badly that they need medical treatment. Around 50% of those injuries are “scalds” – largely preventable burn injuries that disproportionately hurt young kids, the disabled, the elderly and infants.

Here’s a quick primer on scald prevention:

  • Set your thermostat to deliver water that’s no hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Teach young kids safety around hot liquids and flames
  • Cook on the back burners of the stove and keep the handles turned away from the edge
  • Keep a “burn kit” in your home, including Vaseline, bandages, and burn ointments

The Nature and Scope of Burn Risk

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 3,400 people a year die from fires and burns. Most of these fatalities – around 2,500 – occur during residential fires. 300 people a year die in automobile fires; 400 people die due to injuries from scalding liquids or electricity; and 150 people die from smoke inhalation and burns sustained in non-residential fires.

Data compiled from 2002 to 2011 on people admitted to burn centers tell a compelling story. 96.1% of people admitted survived. Most burn victims – 69% – were male. Common causes of burns included: fire and flame; scalding; contact with hot surfaces; and electrical and chemical burns.

Treatments for Burns

Different types of burns may require radically different treatments. For instance, you can often soothe common burns and scalds by running them under cold or lukewarm water. But if you’ve suffered a chemical burn, pouring water on the wound could make the injury worse.

Even if a burn looks minor, don’t take chances. Err on the side of caution, and get a medical evaluation. Often, burn victims fail to realize how hurt they really are. A serious injury can stimulate adrenaline and other hormones and neurotransmitters, which can numb the pain and help you function in an emergency. Unfortunately, the body’s natural response can fool you into thinking that you’re not badly hurt.

Once you’ve received treatment, investigate your legal options. If a defective product or service caused the burn (e.g. a broken oven or poorly constructed piece of electrical machinery), you may be able to sue the owner, operator, or distributor of the defective product to collect money for your hospital bills, time off work and other costs.

Connect with our team to learn about legal options you might have after your burn incident.


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