National Burns Awareness Day Highlights Horrific Nature Of Burn Injuries


The Law Of... raising awareness of burn injuries

This year's National Burns Awareness Day hopes to shine a light on the prevention and treatment of burn injuries, with the British Burn Association publishing a number of infographics that highlight common burn causes at home and in the workplace.

The Law Of... raising awareness of burn injuries

Melanie Burden, Head of General Personal Injury at Simpson Millar, explains the horrific nature of burn injuries and explains how you can be burns aware.

National Awareness Day

Every year, National Burns Awareness Day sees charities and organisations raise awareness about the horrific nature of burn injuries, with a clear focus on prevention while increasing knowledge of how to treat burns and scalds when they do occur.

To mark the day of awareness, the British Burn Association has revealed the most common causes of burns and scalds last year:

  1. Scalds caused by spills from cooking, hot drinks, soups, porridge, and stews; this is especially prevalent in burns involving children – 31%
  2. Others, including sunburn, chemical burns, and non-categorised burns – 27%
  3. Contact burns from hot objects, namely heaters, irons, hobs, oven-doors and hair straighteners – 18%
  4. Using flammable accelerants in barbecues, garden fires, and bonfires – 11%
  5. Fires from flammable clothing coming into contact with a naked flame – 7%
  6. Scalds from hot water systems, such as baths, sinks, and showers – 6%

Focus On Straighteners

A focal point of this year's awareness campaign has been warning parents about the dangers of hair straighteners to children.

A survey by Electrical Safety First showed that of the 2,000 parents asked, 1 in 10 of those who used hair stylers reported that their child had received a serious burn from such a product.

Figures from the International Burn Injury Database report that 392 children were admitted to a specialist burn unit because of an injury sustained on hair straighteners; this accounted for 5% of all admissions to paediatric burns units.

Burns amongst children are particularly concerning, due to the fact that the affected area may require continued surgery as scarred tissue does not grow as the child gets older.

Electrical Safety First also revealed that almost half of those quizzed leave their straighteners unattended while they cool down, despite the fact that heated stylers can reach temperatures of 235°C and stay hot for up to 40 minutes after they've been switched off.

Parents that use heated hair stylers are encouraged to purchase a heat pouch, or similar safety accessory, to ensure that the products cannot be handled by children while they cool down.

Debilitating Nature Of Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can have a deep, long-lasting effect on victims, who often take longer to recover from the psychological damage of burn injuries than the physical injuries suffered by the burn.

For physical burn injuries, the severity of the burn can change the rehabilitation period, with the following scale used to classify injuries:

  • First-degree burns: First-degree burns are normally purely superficial. Skin will likely be painful but it is unlikely that blisters will appear and long-term tissue damage is rare. Most of us suffer first-degree burns during the summer, with sunburn falling into this category
  • Second-degree burns: Second-degree burns are slightly deeper than the first layer of skin, however they do not penetrate through to the underlying tissue. Second-degree burns are normally categorised by swelling and blisters
  • Third-degree burns: Third-degree burns destroy may reach all the way through to the tissue, they are often visually disturbing, very painful, and can make the affected area appear white and charred
  • Fourth-degree burns: Fourth-degree burns are the most physically and mentally damaging, as burns extending down and affecting underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. Fourth-degree burns can often result in victims losing all sensation around the affected area, as nerve endings have been destroyed

In the event of a burn, the immediate first aid techniques that can seriously reduce the rehabilitation time and ensure that burn victims begin their recovery on the best possible footing are as follows:

  • Stop the burning: This may involve dousing a flame or moving a victim from a particular area, however it is crucial that those offering assistance are not caught and become burn victims themselves
  • Remove clothes and jewellery: Clothes and jewellery can become burnt onto skin, removing them can reduce the amount of pain and complications suffered by a burn victim. If clothes or jewellery have already become burnt onto skin, do not remove this without the help or advice of a medical professional, as this could cause more damage
  • Cool the burn: Cooling the burn is crucial in reducing the chances of swelling and managing the amount of pain suffered by the burn victim. Use cool or lukewarm water and cool the burn for up to 20 minutes. Avoid ice cold water and do no use any creams or greasy substances
  • Cover the burn: Covering the burn can help reduce the chances of the affected area being knocked and causing further pain or even infection. Cling film can be used to cover the burn area until medical assistance is administered

Discussing the debilitating nature of burn injuries and the importance of fast action after a burn or scald, Melanie said:

"National awareness days are so important in getting a clear message out to the wider public and the National Burns Awareness Day is no different."

"This is a really important topic to discuss and raise awareness for, as I think that many people still don't appreciate the debilitating nature of burns and scalds."

"Physically speaking, burns can take years to recover, with many victims left visibly scarred for the rest of their lives."

"Psychologically the effect of a burn can be even more profound, with victims often suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and really struggling to readjust to their new life after their injury."

"For some burn victims, there are options available to have scar revision surgery and there have been significant advances in the management of visible burn scars. In instances where somebody has suffered burn injuries due to another party's negligence, seeking legal advice can not only ensure that they receive the best rehabilitation treatment from the start of the recovery but can also help recover indefinite costs for camouflage make-up."

"Sadly, many burn injuries are preventable and it is through awareness campaigns and collaborative action that we can make members of the public aware of the serious nature of burns and scalds, so that they may take extra care and reduce the number of burn dangers in their home."

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