Although not as common as broken bones, spinal cord injuries, whiplash and brain injuries, burn injuries are a serious injury associated with car accidents. Usually, burn accidents take place in serious car collisions, when fuel spills as a result of the crash and is lit. Burn injuries are often devastating, because they affect a person’s appearance and can even burn and injure tissues and muscles, causing severe pain. Getting help for a burn injury quickly after a car accident can help minimize the impact of a burn and can facilitate healing. After a car accident, if a victim has sustained a burn injury, this is what you should do:
1) Examine the burn site for red skin. If there are no blisters but the victim is in pain and has red skin, the burn is likely a superficial or first-degree burn.
2) Examine the skin for signs of wetness and blistering. If these symptoms are present and the victim is in severe pain, it is possible that the victim has a partial-thickness or second-degree burn.
3) Examine the skin for signs of charring or greyish color. The victim may feel a dull pain or even no pain at all if nerve endings have been severely damaged. In this event, the victim has likely suffered a full-thickness burn, which is also known as a third-degree burn.
4) Evaluate the extent of the burn injuries. Over how much of the patient’s body surface is the burn? The victim’s palm surface is usually seen as 1% of the body surface area, so compare the burned area to the victim’s palm. When calling emergency personnel for help, it is useful to be able to explain what type of burn the victim likely has and the extent of the burn. This can help emergency medical personnel evaluate whether to send a burn unit.
5) If in doubt, contact emergency medical personnel. Even if you think a victim has suffered only a first-degree or superficial burn, keep in mind that sometimes the blisters associated with partial-thickness burns or second-degree burns do not develop for a day or 24 hours, so err on the side of caution. Also, call emergency personnel if there is a burn on the victim’s armpits, hands, face, neck, feet, groin, or buttocks. Burns in these areas can be serious.