It’s that time of the year again when we remind ourselves about the importance of fire safety and the dangers of burns. Welcome to Burn Awareness Month, a time to educate ourselves about burn prevention, treatment, and recovery. Whether it’s a minor kitchen burn or a serious chemical burn, burns can have a significant impact on our lives. So, let’s take a moment to learn about the risks and how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from burn injuries. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and this month is all about spreading awareness to prevent burn injuries from happening in the first place. Let’s get started!
Burnshield have partnered with Smile Foundation South Africa and Umatter South Africa and over 6-12 May Burn Awareness Week we will focus specifically on the theme “Hot Liquids Burn Like Fire!”, to share awareness for preventing scald injuries.
The World Health Organisation states that burns are a public health problem worldwide causing an estimated 180,000 deaths annually. Unfortunately, the majority of burns happen in the under-resourced low and middle income countries, with two thirds of all burns occurring in African and South East Asian countries. From a paediatric perspective, burns are the fifth most common cause of non-fatal childhood injury worldwide and many burns injuries are caused by a lack of adult supervision or maltreatment (World Health Organisation, 2018).
South African public/government hospitals receive approximately 8,140 burns admissions annually. 30% of patients will die and many will be left living a low quality of life (Dr. N. Allorto, 2018). In children, the impact of a burn has far reaching implications. Burns are considered to be one of the most severe injuries for children with both a physical and mental impact. Children are naturally curious. As soon as they are mobile, they want to explore their surroundings and play with new objects. This natural learning process means coming into contact with potential burn hazards.They are traumatised by the incident in which the burn took place and being separated from their primary care giver for extended periods. From a physical perspective, treatment for burns can be incredibly painful and treatment can often extend over weeks, months and years depending on the severity. To add to the physical burden, anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are commonly reported in paediatric burns patients (Woolard et al, 2021).
Regardless of the treatment modality selected, the costs associated with burns are high. In 2018, the World Health Organisation reported that approximately US$ 26 million (approx. ZAR 390 million) is spent annually in South Africa to treat burns caused by paraffin (kerosene) stoves. Whether the burn is still in the acute phase, the long hospital stays, repeated debridement, scar revisions, infections and other associated conditions all require specialised treatment in specially designed healthcare facilities.
Burn injuries happen in seconds, but can change a person’s life forever. It is one of the most common and devastating forms of trauma and have the potential to cause death, lifelong scarring, disfigurement and dysfunction – often resulting in prolonged hospitalisation, stigma and rejection. This Burn Awareness Month let’s learn all the necessary tools to be prepared for an emergency. Most people think that it’s not going to happen to them, but being prepared for an emergency can be the best safety tool of all.