Acting quickly in the immediate aftermath of a burn injury can make all the difference in the permanence and severity of the damage. Find out what to do if a burn accident happens to you or someone nearby.
Proper First Aid Depends on the Type of Burn Injury
The appropriate treatment for a burn injury will depend on the type and thickness of the burn. One of the most common types of burn injuries, thermal burns are caused by contact with heat or a hot substance, such as scalding water (known as scald burns), steam, hot cooking oil, or fire. Radiation burns, caused by certain types of cancer therapies, x-rays, tanning beds, and even the sun, range from very mild to quite severe. Another type of burn is the sometimes-fatal electrical burn, which occurs when electricity passes through the body. When the respiratory tract, lungs, or other internal organs are damaged due to inhalation of smoke, chemicals, or heat, this is known as an inhalation burn. Inhalation burns are often fatal and should always be treated as a medical emergency.
Burns are measured by how deeply they penetrate the body. First-degree burns do not go deeper than the epidermis (the first few layers of skin). Burns that penetrate as far as the dermis (living skin tissue) are known as second-degree burns. Third-degree burns reach the deepest level of skin (the hypodermis), typically destroying nerve endings so the victim feels no pain. Burns that are deep enough to reach bones, muscles or internal organs are classified as either fourth, fifth, or sixth-degree burns. Burns that reach this level of thickness are often fatal.
Apply First Aid ASAP After a Burn Injury
For First and Second Degree Burns:
To stop the burning process and discourage infection, remove clothing and debris, then douse or submerge the burned area in cool, clean water. For dry powder burns, wipe off all powder before using water. Do not attempt to remove clothing which is stuck to the skin. Cover or loosely wrap the burned area in gauze or other nonstick dressing. Do not apply any kind of ointment, balm, or home remedy unless instructed by a doctor.
Third Degree Burns (or Worse):
Do not submerge in water. Call 911 and loosely cover the burned area with a dry nonstick dressing. Check for signs of inhalation injury. Lay the injured person flat, elevating the feet and burned areas if possible, to prevent shock. Cover the injured person with a blanket while waiting for emergency responders.
Seek Professional Medical Attention
It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after suffering a burn injury. There are serious risks associated with different types of burns that may not be outwardly evident. Damage to internal organs (including the lungs, heart, and brain) can occur from heat, inhalation, chemical ingestion, or electrical burns. Signs of third degree or higher burns, shock, and inhalation injuries are medical emergencies. Even if you feel fine, get an evaluation and treatment from a doctor right away.
Call an Augusta Burn Injury Attorney
If you have suffered a burn injury in an accident or on the job, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced attorneys at the office of Walker Morgan focus on helping victims of burn injuries. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.