The first full week of February has been designated as National Burn Awareness Week. Initiated by the American Burn Association (ABA), the campaign is intended to educate the public about burn hazards, as well as prevention and treatment for what can be painful, debilitating, and life-altering injuries.
National Burn Awareness Week (#NBAW): February 2-8, 2020
The American Burn Association has specific themes for its annual NBAW. This year’s theme is:
Contact Burns – Hot Surfaces Damage Skin!
Contact Burn Facts
Contact burns, as the name implies, are thermal burns, which occur when a person comes into direct contact with hot surfaces, materials, or objects. This includes burns caused by touching a hot stove or pan, as well as contact with heating appliances. Other types of burns include injuries caused by fire / flames, scalding (liquids or steam), flash burns (lightning or explosions), and chemical, radiation, and electrical burns.
Contact burns are among the most common burn injuries, as hot-surface hazards are abundant in the home andworkplace. They’re also most likely to happen to children who are often unable to recognize when a surface is too hot and are aware of the dangers they pose.
Here are a few quick facts:
- Of the more than 70,000 people were treated in ER Departments for contact burns in 2018; roughly one-third (33%) were children under age 5.
- Contact burn victims in a NCBI study had an average of 2.1% of their total body surface area burned.
- Surgical closure of contact burn wounds is required in over one-third of cases; in some cases, patients require mechanical ventilation (assisted breathing).
- Contact burns account for roughly 10% of all acute burn injuries.
Due to a prolonged transfer of heat from an object to the skin, contact burns can cause very serious injuries; however, they don’t always burn as much of the body as other types of burns.
Still, such burns can cause severe and permanent impairment, disfigurement, and disability, and affect a person’s ability to work – especially if burns affect the fingers, hands, feet, eyes, and other parts of the body critical to performing work-related tasks.
Contact Burn Prevention
Perhaps the greatest difficulty with contact burns is that objects and materials which cause them are so very common. Both at home and in the workplace, hot surfaces are everywhere – which makes it important to know where risks exist, and how to take the proper precautions.
Here are a few tips to prevent contact burns:
- Supervise Children – Because young kids face the greatest risks of contact burns, supervision is key to injury prevention, whether it’s in the kitchen, near heaters or portable heating devices, irons, hot pavement, or other places where they can come into contact with hot objects. In addition to supervising kids, never hold a child while cooking or handling hot objects, and consider creating a 3-foot “kid-free zone” near hazards like stoves or areas where food is prepared.
- Cook With Care – Cooking equipment (especially stoves / ranges and ovens), are a leading cause of non-fatal burns. When cooking, always use safe practices; that includes never leaving food unattended, wearing mitts or potholders when grabbing hot utensils and dishes, using the back burners to prevent children from reaching out and touching something hot, and making sure all appliances are off when you’re done cooking.
- Work With Care – While most contact burns occur in the kitchen, many happen on the job or around hot tools, car engines, and machinery. If you work with equipment that can get hot, always be sure to wear proper protective gear or required PPE, follow manufacturer warnings and instructions, and alert others to potential burn hazards if you work in a shared space.
- Put a Screen or Gate Over the Fireplace – Fireplaces are a source for many burn injuries, which is why you should consider using fireplace gates or screens that both prevent embers or flames from coming out of the fireplace and into the home, and pets and children from getting too close. Glass fireplaces doors aren’t enough, as they can get as hot as 1300˚F, and can take up to 45 minutes to cool down.
- Think About Your Feet – Hot surfaces don’t pose dangers only to hands or arms; your feet can suffer serious burns when they come into contact with hot surfaces. Be sure to wear proper footwear on days when pavement or asphalt are hot, and at the beach when walking on sand; asphalt can reach temperatures in excess of 125˚F when outside temps are just 77˚F. If you enjoy camping or a cozy fire, you should also be sure to keep your feet at a safe distance from flames, stones, or metal fire pits.
- Be Careful with Clothes & Curling Irons – Children are keen to grab whatever they can get their hands on, which makes it important to keep a watchful eye on them and any hot objects you may regularly use. This includes hair curling irons and clothes irons. Teach your kids about the dangers of these hot items, keep them out of reach, and make sure they’re off, not plugged in, and safely stored when not in use.
- Make Frostbite Prevention a Part of Your Safe Practices – We may not think of frostbite as a burn hazard, but these injuries are treated in Burn Centers because they occur in much the same way as contact burns (exposure to low or high temperatures). Pay attention to weather forecasts, dress in layers and protect your exposed body parts with scarfs, caps, and gloves, and take frequent breaks indoors when you must be out in the cold for extended periods of time. Because treatment in a verified burn center within 12 hours of exposure offers the best chances of preserving frostbitten fingers and toes, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial.
In addition to other key burn injury prevention practices – such as checking your water heater temperature, installing smoke alarms, and having an escape plan – it’s best to treat any object or appliance that can get hot as being hot, especially after it’s been recently turned off.
Burn Injury Victims’ Rights
Statistics made available by the ABA, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show nearly half a billion burn injuries occur each year in the U.S. While these types of injuries can range from mild to fatal, they all have the potential to severely disrupt the lives and futures of victims and their families, causing considerable damages in the form of:
- Medical Bills: Burn injuries can be expensive to treat, particularly with more severe burns, more area on the body burned, and injuries that require surgical skin grafting and other procedures to treat. The ABA estimates treatment for burn injuries cost roughly $1.5 billion each year.
- Lost Income: Both mild and severe burn injuries can keep victims off their feet or unable to perform the work they once did. Lost income can exacerbate financial strains following these injuries, whether it's temporary (time away from work) or permanent (disability). ABA estimated burn injuries cost as much as $5 billion in losses annually.
- Pain and Suffering: Burn injuries can be incredibly painful, both during and after the initial incident. Victims with severe burns requiring repair or therapy can also face long and difficult recoveries, physical therapy, and emotional setbacks.
As a law firm that represents injured victims and workers throughout New York City, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. is familiar with the devastating repercussions of serious burn injuries, and knows many can be prevented when safety is a made a priority – which, unfortunately, doesn’t always happen.
If you or a loved one suffered burn injuries due to another’s negligence, you may have the right to seek compensation for your economic and non-economic damages from the responsible product manufacturer, property owner, employer, or other negligent party.
Discuss your potential case with one of our attorneys by calling (212) 577-9325 or contacting us online.