West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has teamed up with medical burns specialists at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield to highlight the devastating effects of burn injuries.
In the last year the Fire Service has seen a rise in the number of people who have received burn injuries when firefighters have attended incidents across West Yorkshire (see figures at end).
Fire Officers were with NHS staff at the hospital on October 18 for the British Burns Association’s national Burn Awareness Day.
This event was also an opportunity for the Fire Service to launch its annual awareness campaign around fire safety over the Halloween and bonfire
The Regional Adults’ Burns Centre and Regional Children’s Burns Unit, based at Pinderfields Hospital, serve a population of approximately 3.5 million people across West Yorkshire, North and East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. The service is accessed by 19 Emergency Departments in an area of around 3,000 square miles.
The Children’s Burns Unit manages approximately 150-200 patients every year, often with major and life-threatening burns and 1,800 outpatients (including outreach services). The Adult Burns Unit also deal with a similar number of patients too.
The most common burns injuries patients present with at the units are tea and coffee scalds.
The burns units at Pinderfields have seen a huge increase in the number of children with hair straightener burns to the feet when they accidently stand on them.
WYFRS Area Manager for Service Delivery Chris Kirby said: “Burn injuries can be devastating and leave people scarred for life. In some of the more serious cases, the injuries sustained have proved fatal.
“Preventing fires from starting is the best way to reduce the likelihood of receiving burns but if fire does break out, then people need to react with their safety in mind.
“People’s instinct is sometimes to fight the fire themselves but this often results in them suffering burns that can have a long-lasting effect on their health, wellbeing and physical appearance.
“The best thing is always to get out of the house and call the Fire Service who have the protective kit and the correct equipment to extinguish the fire safely.
“We are also aware that older people can be particularly vulnerable to fire and if they suffer a burn injury it can be something they are not strong enough to recover from.”
Tracy Foster B.E.M, Burns Hospital Play Specialist on G46 at Pinderfields Hospital, said: “This is a really important topic to discuss and raise awareness for, as I think that many people still don’t appreciate the debilitating nature of burns and scalds.
“Physically speaking, burns can take years to recover, with many victims left visibly scarred for the rest of their lives.
“Psychologically the effect of a burn can be even more profound, with victims often suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and really struggling to readjust to their new life after their injury.
“Sadly, many burn injuries are preventable and it is through awareness campaigns and collaborative action that we can make members of the public aware of the serious nature of burns and scalds, so that they may take extra care and reduce the number of burn dangers in their home.”
The Fire Service is also releasing some striking graphics in the run up to the bonfire season in which our staff have had prosthetic burns applied to highlight the dangers of mishandling fireworks.
Area Manager Chris Kirby added: “We are now entering the time of year when people start lighting candles for pumpkins at Halloween or simply to make their homes feel cosy. The bonfire season is soon to be upon us when people are more likely to be having bonfires and using fireworks and we always see an increase in risk of burn injuries.
“We encourage people to always follow the Fireworks Code and the manufacturers’ instructions and never take risks with fire.”
First Aid can reduce the chances of scarring or in the extreme save lives.
The three step process is:
(1) Cool the burn with 20 minutes of cool running water. This is the optimum time to reduce the temperature of the subdermal layer. Any less time, and residue heat from the burn could still damage surrounding tissues. Any longer, and the patient could potentially suffer hypothermia or a delay in medical treatment. Do not use ice (this damages tissue and has been experimentally shown to slow down healing), frozen peas, toothpaste, butter, aloe vera or ointments.
(2) Call for help. Ideally, professional medical attention should be called while the burn is cooled.
(3) Cover the burn with cling film. This protects the burn from infection while stopping the wound from drying out. Cells that dry out will die, and so delays the healing process.
Fires attended by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service where people have suffered burn injuries
We urge anyone with concerns about fire safety in the home to contact the Fire Service and request a free Safe and Well Check To request a free Safe and Well check visit www.westyorksfire.gov.uk or call 0800 5874536
For more information about the British Burns Association visit http://www.britishburnassociation.org/