Burn Severity

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Burn Severity Safety Talk

Burn injuries are common both at home and in the workplace. The American Burn Association states that there are over 40,000 hospitalizations each year due to burns. There are a few different types of burn injuries, and the severity of burns is classified into three different levels. These levels are first degree, second degree, and third degree. There is a fourth level as well, but we will not mention it here.

Level of Burn Severity
(source: StanfordChildrens.org)

First Degree– These burns are considered the least serious out of the three levels of severity. They affect the outside layer of the skin (the epidermis). The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. A mild sunburn would be an example of a first-degree burn. There are usually no long-term effects to the skin or body resulting from this level of burn.

Second Degree– These burns involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful.

Third Degree– These are the most serious type of burns a person can have. These burns destroy the epidermis and dermis and may go into the subcutaneous tissue. The burn site may appear white or charred.

Treatment of Burns

First Degree– Most of these burns can be treated at home with over-the-counter ointments or medicines. A doctor should still be seen if there is a large area of skin affected or a major joint or face is affected by the burn.

Second Degree– Right after the burn occurs, run the affected area under cool water for 15 minutes. Over-the-counter medications and ointments can be used to heal these burns in the home. A doctor should be seen if the burn affects a large area or if the burn affects the hands, face, feet, groin area, or buttocks.

Third Degree– Do not attempt to address these injuries in the home. Raise the affected area above the heart if possible and get transported to a hospital. Do not remove clothing. This could pull the burned skin from the body.

burn severity safety toolbox talkSummary

It is important to understand the different levels of burn severity and the necessary treatments. Sometimes third degrees burns are less painful than first and second-degree burns due to nerve ending loss. A person needs to be able to recognize when they have suffered a serious burn. If a severe burn does not get treated promptly, it could result in permanent scarring or disfigurement.

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