Burns: INHALATION, CHEMICAL, ELECTRICAL, SUNBURN
Inhalation burns cause the same problems as burns to the skin – swelling, blisters and leaking fluid. Swelling of the airway can occur and fluid may build up in the lungs. Signs and symptoms of breathing difficulty may appear for up to 48 hours.
• Look for singed face, lips, facial hairs or nasal hairs.
• Check the mouth and throat for redness, swelling and soot.
• Check for signs of breathing difficulty; hoarse croaky voice; coughing; and noisy, rapid breathing. • Maintain the airway
• Give the patient something cold to suck on. This may delay swelling of the mouth and tongue.
• Arrange an urgent evacuation. Even if the patient is breathing well straight after the accident, the airway is likely to swell.
• Read and follow emergency care instructions on the chemical container.
• Brush off any dry chemical, while maintaining your own safety.
• Remove anything that may retain the chemical, such as contact lenses, jewellery and clothing.
• If there are no specific emergency care instructions or you do not have the chemical container, flush the burn copiously with water for at least 20 minutes. For a larger burn, flush for longer.
With a low voltage (less than 1000V) burn, the skin may be burnt where the current entered and exited the body. The electrical current can also cause extensive injury to internal organs. Both low and high voltages can cause heart problems.
• Beware of your own safety first. Electrical currents can jump short distances without direct contact: 1000V can jump a few millimetres; 40,000V can jump more than 10cm.
• Use non-conducting materials (such as wood or plastic) to move the patient from danger. Do not touch them until you are sure it is safe to do so.
• Closely monitor the patient’s ABCs – there may be internal damage.
• Treat any surface burns.
• Arrange an evacuation
Avoid sunburn by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, covering up and using sunblock. Remember that reflected glare from water and snow causes sunburn, too. Severe cases of sunburn can cause shock, due to the loss of fluid associated with blisters.
The burn can become infected. If the patient has sunburn with blisters over a large surface area, treat as a severe burn.
• Apply cooling lotion or cream only if the skin is not blistered.
• Discourage the patient from licking their lips if they are cracked and dry, as the moisture evaporating off them dries them more.