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Here is a story that shows clearly why, if a fire breaks out in your home, you should get out immediately and call 911 to report the fire, rather than stay inside and try to extinguish the fire yourself. In short: Unforeseen dangers can arise, and they can kill you.

In mid-February in San Francisco, investigators who reviewed last year’s house fire in the Diamond Heights district that killed two city firefighters issued a set of safety recommendations aimed at preventing a similar tragedy in the future.

A sudden flare-up in the burning house, fueled by oxygen coming in from a broken window, caused the deaths of the two firefighters. The men died even though they did not commit any procedural errors, San Francisco fire officials said.

An internal safety investigation on the June 2, 2011 fire indicates that Lt. Vincent A. Perez and Firefighter Paramedic Anthony M. Valerio were killed by temperatures of up to 700 degrees caused by a sudden-moving burst of fire, known as a flashover.

The intense flashover, which lasted for several minutes, was caused when a window shattered in a ground-floor room, fueling the fire with a rush of oxygen, according to the report. The heat was drawn up a stairwell from the basement, where the fire started, towards the open window on the ground floor. Valerio and Perez were standing on the ground floor, and were killed by third degree burns from the wave of heat that came over them. “They were caught in a chimney-type situation,” said Assistant Chief David Franklin, who worked on the team that prepared the report.

Investigators said the flashover was not something that could have easily been prevented or predicted. “What Vincent and Tony did is exactly what all of us firefighters would have done,” said Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, noting that it is standard practice in the department to make an aggressive attack and try to get water on a fire as quickly as possible. “It was something that we really had no control over.”

Valerio and Perez, whose Engine 26 was the first to arrive on scene after the fire was reported at 10:45 a.m., were trying to reach the seemingly small, routine fire through the front door of the four-story wood-framed home, which was built into a hillside with floors both above and below ground level. They conferred with other firefighters arriving on the scene on the ground floor at 10:53 a.m., and agreed that the fire was below them, the report said.

A short time later, around 10:58 a.m., the flashover occurred and pushed back other firefighters who were attempting to enter the building through the garage. Firefighters were ultimately able to put out the fire through a lower-level entrance on the side of the building.

Perez and Valerio were discovered on the ground floor at the top of the stairwell around 11:05 a.m., after failing to respond to several radio calls, officials said. At no time did the two firefighters send out any distress calls or trigger their emergency alarms. The last radio transmission came at 10:52 a.m., when they said, “we’re still looking for it, zero visibility, more to follow,” the report said.

The two men suffered internal and external burns to 40 percent of their bodies, and died of “thermal injuries,” according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner. Perez died at the hospital later the same day, and Valerio died two days later.

While fire protection gear worn by the firefighters appears to have functioned as designed during the flashover, their radios were severely damaged by the intense heat.
“We’re very concerned about it and believe this will become a national issue” about how to prevent radio damage from happening in the future, Hayes-White said.

The report also found that the response to the fire, caused by an electrical short, was delayed by an attempt by the residents to put it out themselves. Hayes-White urged residents to call 911 right away so that professionals can respond promptly. Even if you are not burned, it is possible that inhaling just one or two breaths of smoky air can make you unconscious from smoke inhalation, and thus unable to escape.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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Rather than creating traditional landfills, U.S. military personnel have burned tons of trash and human waste while stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But some veterans now believe that their present health problems are the result of breathing in the polluted fumes and smoke that came from those burn pits.

Legislation filed in November in the U.S. Congress would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a registry for veterans who might have been exposed to these burn pits during the wars involving the U.S. between 2001 and 2011. The database would allow the government to collect information on the number of veterans exposed to the burn pits and the types of health problems they are suffering. However, it doesn’t direct the government to provide any particular type of benefits to those veterans.

“Is there a really consistent pattern of a problem, of is it more a coincidence?” said one member of Congress. “We’ve seen anecdotally what appears to be some pretty weird symptoms that just turned up from nowhere” among soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The VA website states that toxins in smoke like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide could affect the skin, eyes, kidneys, liver and the nervous, cardiovascular and reproductive systems. But it also says that research has not shown to this point long-term adverse health effects from exposure to burn pits.

The VA previously had asked the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to review existing literature on the potential health effects of exposure to burn pits in military settings. A report released in early November by the institute focused on a burn pit used to dispose of waste at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, which burned up to 200 tons of waste per day in 2007.The report found that the levels of most pollutants at the base were not higher than levels measured at other polluted sites worldwide, but it said there was insufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions about any long-term health effects that might be seen in service members exposed to burn pits.

The legislation would require the VA to commission an independent, scientific study to recommend the most effective means of addressing the medical needs that are likely to result from exposure to open burn pits. To create and maintain the database could cost about $2 million over five years.

For people not in the military, here’s the lesson from this story: Any type of smoke inhalation can be damaging to several systems in the body, to the point that you might never fully recover–and it might result in premature death. So whenever a person suffers smoke inhalation, they should be given professional medical help immediately to flush the lungs of smoke (which contains not just carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, but many other poisons too)–even if the person feels fine!

Many times, injury and pain and suffering from smoke inhalation does not appear until hours or days later–but by then it is too late to repair the damage done to the human body. So don’t take a chance–if someone suffers any smoke inhalation, get them professional medical help immediately.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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After staying in the hospital for a period of time, there will come a time when the patient has to be discharged home. When the burn team decides that the patient is ready to be discharged, a plan will be set for the discharge. The case manager will work with the patient and his/her family to coordinate for the discharge. Some patients will be discharged to a rehabilitation center to continue their treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask any question you have regarding your discharge plan. The discharge plan will include:

  • The medications that the patient will use after discharge: before discharge you have to know the medications that you have to continue using, how to take them, the dose, how many times a day, what the medicine is used for and what are the possible side effects of the drugs. You have to finish any prescription you are given even if you are feeling good.
  • The diet that you should consume: a well balanced, healthy diet should be consumed by the patient with plenty of fluids. If there are diet restrictions it will be discussed with the patient before discharge which will differ from one patient to another depending on the situation of the patient (see Nutrition and Burns).
  • Physical activity: activity is important to prevent joint stiffness and avoid muscle power loss. The patient, before discharge, will be given instructions from the burn team regarding the activities that the patient can participate in. The patient should avoid certain activities like heavy lifting until the physician tells the patient it’s ok to do them. Some patients may need physical or occupational therapy at home as part of the recovery process (this will be arranged by the hospital staff).
  • Some patients may need certain equipment like a wheelchair. The case manager with the burn team will work with the patient so that the patient will have the equipment needed.
  • Taking care of the wound and the dressings: see also burn wound care at home, wound infection. Follow all the instructions given to you by your treating staff. Ask your doctor when you can begin bathing or showering.
  • Compression garments: some patients may need compression garments which are used for the treatment of scars, they work by applying pressure to the affected area which helps flatten and improve the appearance of the scar.
  • Follow ups: make sure to keep all the follow ups, if you miss one, call to re schedule it.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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In late January in a small town in Illinois, a mother and father helped to minimize the injury to their nine-year-old daughter from a burn accident, by knowing what to do and acting quickly.

What would you do if your child got scalded by boiling hot water, or if you saw a restaurant worker scalded by hot liquid or food? Doctors say this is something that parents and restaurants employees alike should know, because these scalding accidents happens a lot.

The young girl in this case did sustain second degree burns and third degree burns, and was still in considerable plain a few weeks after the burn accident. But without her parents’ fast actions, the girl probably would have had much worse injuries–which could have required skin graft surgery to repair damaged skin.

The girl was eating with her family at a restaurant when a pot of steaming hot water for tea that was placed on the table turned over. When the boiling water spilled into the girl’s lap, it burned right through her clothes and skin to the inner layers of the dermis, where nerves and blood vessels are. “I started to feel like I was on fire, and I just started to scream,” the girl said afterward.

First, the girl’s parents pulled her pants off to cool her down. “I didn’t care that we were in the middle of a restaurant–they had to come off,” said her father. “At that point, though, I could already feel some of the skin blistering.”

Her mother, a nurse, ran to the kitchen and grabbed ice and cold water. “I grabbed an iced tea pitcher and filled it with water, and sat her down with the ice and held her and poured the ice and the water, continually dumping some of it into her lap,” the mother said. “You have to stop the burning process. Even though the top layer of skin could be dry, the burning is still going in the skin layers below. If you can stop that deeper burning, you can stop a lot of the injury damage.”

The girl’s doctor at the burn center at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL said that was good thinking. “To try to cool down a burn injury is important. Particularly when a victim has clothing that has hot liquid on it, that heat is still transferring heat to the skin,” he said.

A few weeks later, the girl is well enough to play board games to ease her pain. “It makes me forget that I got burned,” she says. In addition, some virtual reality video games have been proven to help burn victims lessen their pain by taking their minds of of their burn injuries for minutes or hours at a time, even when pain medication does not help.

The girl’s doctor says that 40 percent of Loyola’s burn unit patients are children. Most of them were burned with hot water or food. This is why parents must know what to do in the event their child suffers a burn accident, and why restaurant workers should know as well.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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Some Toyota Camry and RAV4 owners have reported their car doors catching on fire, apparently from a power window switch. Federal safety regulators are investigating reports of fires in the driver’s side doors of 2007 Toyota Camry sedans and RAV4 crossover SUVs.

The probe could affect as many as 830,000 vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last week in documents posted on its website. The vehicles have not been recalled.

The fires appear to start in the power window switch in the door. Six fires have been reported to the agency, but NHTSA has no reports of anyone being hurt. The agency said it started the investigation this week.

Toyota said in a statement that it is cooperating with NHTSA in the investigation.

Most of the fires were minor with damage limited to the doors, but a Camry was destroyed in one case, according to complaints filed with NHTSA. Several owners reported that they were afraid to drive their vehicles because of the threat of fires.

In one case, on Nov. 19, 2011, a Camry owner reported seeing flames coming from the door immediately after starting the car. Firefighters were called, but the car was reported destroyed, the complaint said.

A RAV4 owner reported that in August of last year, the master power window switch caught fire, burning a hole the size of a dime. The owner had been having trouble with the power window since July of 2009. “I was so afraid to drive that fire trap, I traded it in for a new car,” the complaint said. “The RAV4 was paid off. Now I have a car loan at 19.9 percent.”

Toyota’s reputation has taken a hit over the past three years due to a string of huge recalls that have ballooned to more than 14 million vehicles worldwide. Millions were recalled for acceleration problems, and Toyota replaced floor mats that can trap gas pedals as well as pedal assemblies that can stick and cause cars to take off by surprise. But after an exhaustive probe, U.S. safety regulators, aided by NASA engineers, could not find anything wrong with Toyota’s electronic throttle controls.

In December, the 2012 Camry received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency’s top rating.

Here’s the lesson to be learned from this story: If you see or smell smoke or fire from within your car, shut off the car and get out of the car immediately. DO NOT open the hood of the car–this will give a fire more oxygen to burn and can result in severe burns to you or people around you. Call the fire department immediately.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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A 10 year old girl sufferred a second degree burn to her face and neck and needed to be hospitalized as a result of a defective coffee maker. The consumer Product Safety Comission (CPSC) reported that there have been 140 reports of problems with the Tassimo single-cup brewers dousing people, including 37 cases involving second degree burns. CPSC reported that the plastic disc that holds the coffee or tea in the coffee maker’s (T-disc) can burst while brewing and spray hot liquid and coffee grounds or tea leaves onto consumers .

About 835,000 coffee makers are on recall in the United States and another 900,000 in Canada. The agency also announced the recall of 4 million packages of Tassimo espresso T-discs after 21 reports of problems.

Contact with hot liquids is one of the causes of a second degree burn. Clinical features of a second degree burn may include the following;

  • Blisters.
  • Deep redness.
  • Swelling.
  • Pain (they are the most painful because nerve endings are intact).
  • Peeling of the skin.
  • Shock because of the loss of fluid.
  • Burned area may appear wet and shiny or white.

Treatment:
Second degree burns can be treated at home if they are minor. Moderate and critical burns require treatment in a hospital. You need to seek medical treatment immediately if the burn is greater than 2-3 inches in diameter, if it is on the face, hands, feet, or genitals; or if the burn is caused by an electrical source.

The goal of treatment for second degree burns is to ease the pain and prevent infection.

  • Remove any jewelry or clothes from the burned area.
  • Hold the burn under cool running water for 10-15 minutes or apply cold water compresses like a wet towel.
  • Don’t break blisters because it will increase the risk of infection.
  • You can apply an antibiotic cream or an aloe based cream then cover the burn with a dry sterile gauze pad.
  • Use pain reducing medications like Tylenol or Motrin.
  • If the burn is on the arms or legs, keep them raised to reduce swelling.

Avoid the following things:

  • Don’t use ice or ice water. (may cause more injury).
  • Don’t remove clothing if it is stuck to the burn (it will remove burned tissue with it).
  • Don’t put grease, ointments, petroleum jelly or home remedies, these substances can hold the heat in and make the burn worse.
  • Don’t use bandages with adhesive material (it will stick to the wound).
  • Don’t give aspirin to a child under the age of 18 years.

If there is any change or worsening of the burned area you should see your doctor. These changes include: puss drainage from the burned area, increased redness, excessive swelling, blister filled with greenish or brownish fluid, fever, swollen lymph nodes, numbness or coolness of the skin beyond the burned area. (See wound infection)

A second degree burn heals between 10 days to 3 weeks, deep second degree burns may take more than 3 weeks to heal.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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In Knoxville, Tennessee last week, a fire in the middle of the night from a fireplace that was not properly monitored cause severe burns to a 23-year-old man. Apparently, the man tried to put out the spreading flames by stomping on the burning materials and by placing towels over the flames to smother them. As a result, the victim suffered second degree burns and third degree burns to his hands and feet. He was flown to the Vanderbilt Burn Center in Nashville for more advanced treatment. The victim might need a skin graft to fully heal his burn wounds.

A neighbor said that the man, who was alone in the house at the time of the fire, was using the fireplace to stay warm. “When fire crews got to the house, the victim was outside already,” said the local fire chief. “He had apparently made an attempt to put the flames out before they got out of control. That’s usually when you suffer burns to your hands and feet.”

Firefighters attended to the victim, and started a defensive attack to keep the fire from spreading to houses next door. But the fire became so intense that a neighbor’s home, including the roof and siding, was damaged by the heat. In addition to the victim’s house being destroyed, there is now the possibility that the burn victim has legal liability for damages inflicted upon the adjacent house.

The victim told firefighters that he had started a fire in the fireplace in the late evening, before going to bed, and left the fire burning.

There are a few important lessons to learn from this incident:

First, it is very dangerous to leave a fire unattended! The same goes for candles and food that is cooking. You should NOT leave any room using fire or a flame for more than a few seconds.

Second, if a fire starts in your home, do NOT try to put it out yourself unless it is small AND only if you use a fire extinguisher. Getting close to a fire with your hands and feet is very dangerous, and even your clothes could catch fire, which can kill you before you can perform the “stop, drop and roll” procedure.

Third, remember that three out of every four people who die in a fire suffer smoke inhalation rather than severe burns. It takes only one or two breaths of fire smoke, which is contaminated with poisonous carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, to make a person unconscious, and thus unable to escape the fire.

If a fire starts in your home and no fire extinguisher is available, you should immediately yell “fire!” to all other people in the house so that they know they must evacuate, and you should then get yourself out of the house as quickly as possible. Once outside, you should call 911 or the fire department and give them the address of the house. Do NOT go back into the house under any circumstances!

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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In late January, ten people were treated and released from the hospital after suffering smoke inhalation from a fire that broke out inside the Joe Gibbs Racing complex in Huntersville, N.C.

Huntersville police said that a machine, thought to be a laser cutter, caught fire inside the building. The fire was contained to the machine shop inside the building, and the 10 people were treated by paramedics in the adjacent parking lot. These ten people were then cleared to go back inside the complex.

“A piece of equipment in the machine shop caught fire at our Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters in Huntersville, N.C. The fire department was called and the fire was quickly contained and extinguished,” read a statement from Joe Gibbs Racing. “A few of our employees received treatment on site for issues related to smoke inhalation. All employees were able to return to work within the hour to continue preparations for the 2012 NASCAR season.”

Witnesses observed smoke pouring from the complex, located just west of Interstate 77 on the outskirts of Charlotte, N.C. Joe Gibbs Racing is home for the race teams of several high-profile drivers, including drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.

It’s the second year in a row that a fire has caused damage to this facility. In February 2011, a fire caused significant damage to the room where engines are built and worked on. No one was injured in that incident.

Workplace fires are dangerous because, although most offices and shops have smoke detectors and fire alarms, many people are trying to escape down fire stairs and through fire exits, which can cause crowding and prevent a quick escape. The result could be second degree or third degree burns in addition to smoke inhalation, which can make a victim unconscious in just seconds, and unable to escape.

It is wise for you to know where the fire exits are in a building from the first minute you go inside that building. It will save you precious time in the event of a fire.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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In late December, the wife of an industrial worker who suffered fatal third degree burns when a steel ladle erupted and spewed molten steel on him, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her husband’s employer and the manufacturers of the ladle.

Roxanne Moyer, individually and on behalf of her deceased husband, Samuel N. Moyer, filed suit against Siemens Vai Services et als, Signal Metal Industries Inc., Danieli Corp., North American Refractories Co. and Black Diamond Capital Management on December 30, 2011 in federal court in New Orleans, LA.

The incident occurred on February 1, 2011 while Samuel Moyer was working as a furnace second helper in the ArcelorMittal Laplace steel manufacturing mill. During the course of his regular job duties, a steel ladle erupted and spewed molten steel, which came into contact with Moyer. Two days later, he died from third degree burns he suffered during the incident.

Moyer’s wife contends that the defendants are liable because the steel ladle, ladle transfer car, ladle stir plugs and nest block assembly were all unreasonably dangerous in design, construction, composition, and lack of warnings, and also because the products did not conform to an express warranty of the manufacturer.

The plaintiff is asking the court for an award of survival action damages for conscious physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses and wrongful death damages for loss of love, affection, services, and support, as well as infliction of grief, plus interest and court costs. A jury trial was requested.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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Near Chicago last month, three people–one of them a baby–were rescued from a basement fire. It is almost a miracle they survived after suffering smoke inhalation and falling unconscious before they could escape on their own.

The suburban Des Plaines Fire Department responded to a call about people trapped in a burning residence about 6:45 p.m. Firefighters were dispatched and arrived at the scene in about four minutes. They saw that most the flames and smoke were coming from the basement, so they moved into that area first and found three victims.

Two victims, a woman and a male baby, were unconscious. Firefighters removed them from the building and were able to resuscitate them before transferring them to an ambulance. The third victim, a woman, suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation.

The three victims were taken to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and all indications were that they would survive the ordeal. “Our guys arrived quickly and they did an outstanding job of locating the victims, getting them out, and resuscitating them,” said the Des Plains fire chief. “It could very well have been a much worse tragedy.” If it took one or two more minutes for firefighters to respond, all three victims would have died from smoke inhalation or third degree burns.

After an investigation, it was determined that a gasoline can was accidentally dropped down the basement stairs and caused the fire when a water heater ignited fumes coming from the can. The victims were renting the basement apartment, so it is not yet clear if the owner of the house has legal liability for injuries the victims suffered. If there was negligence in leaving the gas can near the stairs that led down to the water heater, then the victims could sue the landlord to compensate them for their injuries.

The lesson to be learned from this story is that containers which hold gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, or propane gas DO NOT belong in or near a house or apartment. Why? Because the fumes that come from even an empty container can catch fire from a nearby source of heat or flame–or even from a tiny spark of static electricity!

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.