’Tis the season for California dreaming: the beaches, the surfing, the amusement parks – the traffic! As more and more tourists flood onto our roads, highways and freeways in their RVs and campers, however, the more chance you have that one of these vehicles will strike yours. The results could prove catastrophic, especially if you suffer burns. Sadly, 3,275 Americans died in 2016 as the result of burns sustained in a vehicle.
- Thermal burns from coming into contact with the flames or heat of the fire or by touching an extremely hot surface in your vehicle
- Scald burns from coming into contact with one of your vehicle’s hot liquids such as gasoline
- Chemical burns from coming into contact with one of your vehicle’s caustic fluids such as antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, steering fluid, even windshield washer fluid
- Electrical burns from coming into contact with a downed power line if your car hits an electrical pole
Burns range in severity from first-degree, the least serious, to fourth-degree, which is life-threatening. Most people suffer first- if not second-degree burns sometime during their lives as the result of sunburns. Vehicle crash victims, however, almost invariably receive third- or fourth-degree burns.
Third-degree burns go deeper than your skin. In fact, they burn away your skin and damage your underlying organs and tissues. Fourth-degree burns go even deeper and burn your tendons and bones. One of the most frightening aspects of a fourth-degree burn is that you may not feel severe pain and consequently may fail to realize how injured you are. The reason you may not feel pain, however, is because the burn damaged your nerves that give you the ability to feel pain. At this point, you are in danger of losing your life.
Any time you receive a serious burn, whether in a car crash or elsewhere, you need immediate emergency medical assessment and treatment at the nearest burn center. Only a qualified burn specialist can determine the extent of your injuries and proceed with the proper treatment to lessen your pain and attempt to minimize the disfiguring scars that burns produce as they heal.