Lots of people get burned. How many?
Who? What happens to them afterwards?
Every year, one person out of every 100 is injured by a burn.
Burns are the fourth most common type of injury. Each year, about 11 million (11,000,000) people worldwide are burned badly enough to need treatment by doctors. More than 300,000 people die from burn injuries, and millions more suffer the psychological, social, and economic effects of disabilities and disfigurements.
People living in poorer countries are almost ten times more likely to get burned than people living in richer countries, and in any country poorer people are more at risk than richer people.
The best burn centres in richer countries can save people with burns over 90% of their bodies, but in poorer countries people with burns of over 40% almost always die.
Two out of every three burn injuries are to children.
Worldwide, about 7 million (7,000,000) children suffer burn injuries each year, and more than 500,000 of them are hospitalised. Up to half of these children are less than five years old.
A young child's skin is thinner and more sensitive to heat than an adult's skin, so it burns more easily. Most burns to young children are from accidents in the home. Nearly three-quarters of these injuries are scalds, very often from hot drinks. A freshly-made cup of tea or coffee can cause a second or third degree burn in less than 5 seconds, and hot drinks which have cooled for 5 to 10 minutes are still hot enough to cause a second or third degree burn in 10 to 15 seconds.
Burns are very expensive injuries to treat.
A burn survivor's first stay in hospital usually lasts about two weeks, but it may last several months. This is often followed by months or years of further treatment. During all this time, burn survivors need the services of many different medical specialists. All this costs a lot of money. For example, a burn covering 30% of the body can cost more than buying a three-bedroom house, just for the first treatment in hospital. The lifetime cost of severe burns can be five times as much.
Burn injuries are both extremely painful and slow to heal.
Many doctors think serious burns are the most painful kind of injury. As well as the pain of the burn injury, survivors have to suffer skin grafts and other operations. Young burn survivors suffer the most, because skin grafts do not grow with them and must be continually replaced during their growing years.
Burn injuries cause enormous changes in a person's life, and tremendous emotional pain.
They cause children to stop going to school because they cannot use their hands to write. Mothers cannot pick up their babies because they can no longer bend their arms, and fathers lose their jobs because they can no longer walk. Long stays in hospital can set back schooling and careers. Those who try to return to work or school, and other normal activities, often find there is a big change in the way others act toward them. Stares, questions and well-meant over-protection and sympathy can overwhelm a burn survivor. There have been many cases where burn survivors have been stigmatised or socially excluded and their future employment has been jeopardised because of visible scarring.
At the time of their injury, all burn patients experience shock, horror, pain, and anxiety. Later on, burn survivors often suffer post-traumatic stress, with nightmares, anxiety, depression and loss of motivation. They can have doubts about their identity and self-worth. Dr George Holgate, himself a burn survivor, once said, "Two million people were burned last year.... Many carry deep scars. Where are these people? Hiding.... Stop and think: You have a pimple or a hickey, you don't want to go to work. Magnify that how many times over and that's what it's like to have been burned."
Three-quarters of all burn accidents could be prevented!
Ignorance and carelessness kill or severely injure millions of people each year. Please, be aware of the dangers. Think before you act. The best way to treat a burn is to prevent it from happening in the first place!
The face of a burn:
If you think "a burn" looks a bit like a bad sunburn, you couldn't be more wrong!
WARNING! If you are easily frightened, or very young, these photos may be too scary for you,
but if you really want to know, click here to see what a burn really looks like.