We all know that fire is hot and that if you touch it, it will burn you. But when did you learn this information? How did you learn it? What might happen if you were to start forgetting things while you had open flames on your oven range?
A pair of recent reports remind us that burns are significant problems. Though we in the United States are fortunate enough to consider ourselves relatively safe, the reports also remind us that some groups are not as safe as others.
What the reports say
One of the reports came from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Published in late 2019, it explored the incidence of burns and fire-related injuries worldwide. The other report looked more specifically at burns within Louisiana. It focused on the experiences of a single burn center from 2012 to 2018. Both acknowledged several different types of burns, including those that owed to open flame, scalding, explosions, smoke exposure and caustic materials. They also offered several more eye-catching facts:
- While the United States has seen a 40% reduction in burns and fire-related injuries over the past decade, it’s still not among the Top 10 nations for burn safety
- 2017 saw nearly 9 million burn-related injuries and more than 120,000 deaths
- Worldwide, people ages 5 to 30 were most likely to suffer burns, although children under 5 and the elderly were far more likely to suffer fatal burns
- In Louisiana, children under the age of 4 were more likely to suffer burns than other age groups, and boys suffered more burns than girls
- Alabama had the highest burn-related death rate in 2017 while Louisiana had the nation’s eighth highest
- Many of Louisiana’s burns felt closer to home, as scald injuries, such as those related to boiling food, were the state’s most common, and food preparation and consumption were the circumstances most often linked to burns
- Louisiana’s seafood, fireworks and heating burns spiked in crawfish season and colder months, especially January and July
What does it all mean?
While these facts may appear to bounce around a bit, they reveal a common theme: While burns can be truly awful and life-altering, they are also largely preventable.
When we take certain steps, as the United States has taken over the past decade, we can reduce the risk of burns. Those must susceptible are those who already most rely on help with other tasks. We need to be conscientious not only of ourselves when we work with flames, boiling liquids and other dangerous materials, but we need to think of others, as well.