Monday, February 4, 2008

National Burn Awareness Week in the US

According to the American Burn Association, there are 4,000 fire and burn deaths every year in the United States. There are 40,000 hospital admissions for fire or burn injuries. 

Burns are one of the most preventable injuries because of their very nature. Children pull hot pots off stoves, they play with matches or lighters, or they are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Unfortunately, many people who do see someone get burned don't know what to do in terms of first aid. Doing the wrong thing is worse than not doing anything at all in the case of burns. If you haven't taken a first aid course, I strongly recommend one. A good course prepares you for many eventualities.

As a refresher or for a beginning, here are some of the rules of first aid for burns as published by MedlinePlus:


      1. If the skin is unbroken, run cool water over the area of the burn or soak it in a cool water bath (not ice water). Keep the area submerged for at least 5 minutes. A clean, cold, wet towel will also help reduce pain.
      2. Calm and reassure the person.
      3. After flushing or soaking, cover the burn with a dry, sterile bandage or clean dressing.
      4. Protect the burn from pressure and friction.
      5. Over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and swelling. DO NOT give children under 12 aspirin. Once the skin has cooled, moisturizing lotion also can help.
      6. Minor burns will usually heal without further treatment. However, if a second-degree burn covers an area more than 2 to 3 inches in diameter, or if it is located on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint, treat the burn as a major burn.
      7. Make sure the person is up-to-date on tetanus immunization.


      1. If someone is on fire, tell the person to STOP, DROP, and ROLL. Wrap the person in thick material to smother the flames (a wool or cotton coat, rug, or blanket). Douse the person with water.
      2. Call 911.
      3. Make sure that the person is no longer in contact with smoldering materials. However, DO NOT remove burnt clothing that is stuck to the skin.
      4. Make sure the person is breathing. If breathing has stopped, or if the person's airway is blocked, open the airway. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
      5. Cover the burn area with a dry sterile bandage (if available) or clean cloth. A sheet will do if the burned area is large. DO NOT apply any ointments. Avoid breaking burn blisters.
      6. If fingers or toes have been burned, separate them with dry, sterile, non-adhesive dressings.
      7. Elevate the body part that is burned above the level of the heart. Protect the burnt area from pressure and friction.
      8. Take steps to prevent shock. Lay the person flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches, and cover him or her with a coat or blanket. However, DO NOT place the person in this shock position if a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected or if it makes the person uncomfortable.
      9. Continue to monitor the person's vital signs until medical help arrives. This means pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure.

                        DO NOT

      • DO NOT apply ointment, butter, ice, medications, cream, oil spray, or any household remedy to a severe burn.
      • DO NOT breathe, blow, or cough on the burn.
      • DO NOT disturb blistered or dead skin.
      • DO NOT remove clothing that is stuck to the skin.
      • DO NOT give the person anything by mouth, if there is a severe burn.
      • DO NOT immerse a severe burn in cold water. This can cause shock.
      • DO NOT place a pillow under the person's head if there is an airway burn. This can close the airway.


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