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Feeling the Burn this Valentine’s Day?

Yes, it is nearly that time of the year when roses sell for more than premium gas, and when chocolate is consumed by the ton. It is Valentine’s Day, when a burning love reigns supreme, whether that be the love between two or more people, between a person and their animal(s), or between a person and food.

Either way, burning passion may be exciting, but burns are not—and with the increase in candles bought, dinners being made by amateurs, and angry ex-boyfriend bonfires, it is no wonder the American Burn Association made the week before Valentine’s Day National Burn Awareness Week.

According to the American Burn Association, there were approximately 486,000 medically treated burn injuries and 40,000 hospitalizations related to burn injuries last year.

The most common causes of burn injuries in 2015 were:

  • Fire accounted for 43% of burn injuries
  • Scalding accounted for 34% of burn injuries
  • Thermal burns accounted for 9%
  • Electrical burns accounted for 4%
  • Chemical burns accounted for 3%
  • Other sources such as sunburn, fireworks, or inhalation accounted for the remaining 7%

Burns are measured in degrees, meaning the more severe a burn the higher the degree. Technically there are 4 degrees of burning, but I’ll be omitting the fourth in this post. Determining burn depth is very important when figuring out how to treat the wound. Things to consider are temperature, mechanism, duration of contact, blood flow to skin, and anatomic location. Age is also an important aspect to consider as young children and older adults have thinner skin.

First degree burns are the most common and least severe of all burns. Think, pulling a plate out of the microwave that isn’t microwave-safe or not wearing sunscreen while at the beach. They typically burn only the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and while they do not blister usually, the skin is red and painful. Second-degree burns are often classified as partial or full-thickness burns, meaning they burn through and destroy the epidermis and burn into the upper layers of the dermis or middle layer of skin tissue. Blisters are present, burns can take up to a month to heal, and scarring is a viable possibility. Skin grafting may be needed to heal. Third-degree burns are the most severe and burns are only classified as a third-degree if all layers of the skin are destroyed. The burned areas will appear charred and will be dry, and no pain is associated with these burns as all nerve endings will have been seared away.

When you have been burned your immediate thought should be to stop the burning. Below are some guidelines from WebMD on how to handle burns.

    • Heat burns (thermal burns): Smother any flames by covering them with a blanket or water. If your clothing catches fire, do not run: stop, drop, and roll on the ground to smother the flames.
    • Cold temperature burns: Try first aid measures to warm the areas. Small areas of your body (ears, face, nose, fingers, toes) that are really cold or frozen can be warmed by blowing warm air on them, tucking them inside your clothing or putting them in warm water.
    • Liquid scald burns (thermal burns): Run cool tap water over the burn for 10 to 20 minutes. Do not use ice.
    • Electrical burns: After the person has been separated from the electrical source, check for breathing and a heartbeat. If the person is not breathing or does not have a heartbeat, call 911.
    • Chemical burns: Natural foods such as chili peppers, which contain a substance irritating to the skin, can cause a burning sensation. When a chemical burn occurs, find out what chemical caused the burn. Call your local Poison Control Center or the National Poison Control Hotline (1-800-222-1222) for more information about how to treat the burn.
    • Tar or hot plastic burns: Immediately run cold water over the hot tar or hot plastic to cool the tar or plastic.
    • Remove any jewelry or clothing at the site of the burn. If clothing is stuck to the burn, do not remove it. Carefully cut around the stuck fabric to remove loose fabric. Remove all jewelry, because it may be hard to remove it later if swelling occurs.

Around 43% of burns happen inside the home. This Valentine’s Day, and every day, keep the physical burning to a minimum by being careful with open flames, hot food and beverages, and any electrical appliances. If alcohol has been imbibed set an alarm on your phone to blow out the candles or put out the fireplace. Do not leave hot beverages, cooking oil, hot pans or anything near the edge of tables or counters, and if you have little ones or pets, keep an eye out for curious fingers and paws.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day from Curcio Law!

 

If you or a loved one have been burned due to negligence, contact Curcio Law today for a free consultation.

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