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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.

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Ice packs are used sometimes to treat muscle strains or sprains in different parts of the body. These packs if incorrectly used, can cause skin burns which may vary from mild such as first degree burns or more severe such as second and third degree burns. Cold burns are caused by the prolonged contact with icy objects or snow, as well as the exposure to windy conditions. The burn is cause by a drop in the temperature of the skin in contact with the ice pack, this drop in temperature causes the water contained in the cells to freeze forming sharp ice crystals and damaging the surrounding cell structure. In addition the blood vessels located close to the skin start to constrict and when the skin and the underlying tissues are exposed to prolonged cold or extreme cold, the flow of blood to the affected areas will be greatly reduced leading to damage to these areas. (See also Frostbite)

One of the most common ways this can occur is through the application of the ice pack directly on the skin of the injured area. There are certain factors that may increase the incidence of cold induced burn injuries, these may include:

  • People who use medications that decrease the blood flow to the skin such as beta-blockers.
  • People with peripheral vascular disease which decrease the blood flow to the affected tissue.
  • People with peripheral neuropathy which decreases the ability to feel injuries.
  • Smoking and diabetes.
  • High velocity wind which increases the rate of heat loss from the skin.
  • People who are not well dressed for extremely cold temperature.

Clinical features of cold induced burn injuries including ice packs are:

  • Each individual may experience symptoms differently; the signs and symptoms depend on the severity.
  • Pins and needles sensation followed by tingling and numbness.
  • Redness and pain in the affected skin area.
  • Firm or waxy skin which is white and completely numb (a sign that tissues have started to freeze).
  • Skin blisters.
  • Very severe frost bite may cause gangrene (blackened, dead tissue) and damage to the deep structures such as muscles and nerves.

Treatment of ice pack burn:

You may notice having an ice pack burn if you start developing the signs and symptoms of cold induced injury such as developing blisters, feel burning, numb, itchiness and/or pain sensation in the affected area. The color of the affected skin may turn yellowish-gray. The affected area need to be re-warmed to stop the burn from becoming severe.

  • Warming process should be GRADUAL to avoid burning yourself and causing more damage to the skin. Soak the burned skin in warm water. The National Institute of Health suggests the temperature of water to be between 104 and 108 degree Fahrenheit for 20 minutes (never use hot water). You can use warm compresses or wrap yourself in blankets. Avoid massaging or moving the damaged area as this can cause the subcutaneous ice crystals in the tissue to move and cause more damage and avoid using direct dry heat to warm the affected area such as radiator or hair dryer as these areas are numb and can burn easily.
  • You may need to use pain killers, local antibiotic ointment and/or dressing depending on the condition of the wound.

You should seek medical attention if the burned area:

  • Doesn’t begin to burn and/or tingle.
  • Remain numb with the skin white, cold and hard when you touch it.
  • Doesn’t regain a pinkish complexion.

As these may be a signs of more severe damage of the blood vessels, nerves and muscles underneath the affected skin that may lead to gangrene.

How to avoid ice pack burns:

  • Use the correct size and style of ice pack on the affected area, more than one ice pack may be needed in large areas.
  • Put a barrier between your skin and the ice pack. You can use a thin folded hand towel or several layers of paper towels as a barrier. Using thick towels may keep the ice from affecting the area decreasing its benefit.
  • Small children and elderly people can suffer skin burns and damage quicker than adults because of their fragile skin therefore it’s safer to use frozen vegetables as a source of cold as these vegetables will melt and become soft well before they can cause damage to the skin.

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 Poughkeepsie, NY last week, a fire tore through a private home being rented by Marist College students near the campus. The fire killed killed two students and one former student. Four other people in the house escaped without serious injuries.

The off-campus house was being rented by six female Marist students. At about 1:30 a.m., the fire was initially reported to 911 by someone driving past the house. There were seven people in the house at that moment: four female residents and three male guests.

The local police chief said the occupants had gone to bed about an hour before the fire was called into authorities. “There was no issue that the occupants were aware of in the house when they went to bed,” he said, basing his comments on interviews with the four survivors.

At least two of the occupants jumped through a window to safety after realizing that the house was engulfed in flames–which shows just how quickly this fire had spread. In fact, the first firefighters to respond to the emergency tried to get into the house, but were forced back by heat and flames.

One victim was found on the second floor of the house, one was downstairs and the third was under “considerable collapsed debris,” the police chief said. The four survivors were taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released. They were treated for minor smoke inhalation and other minor injuries and were able to speak to police.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though the fire chief said the fire is believed to have started in the rear of the first floor. It is not yet know if the house had working smoke detectors.

There are lessons for all of us to learn from this tragedy.

First, everyone in a house should know where all the exits are–including windows–in the room where they will sleep. If a fire happens overnight, there are only seconds left to think and act. It is critical to know where the windows are in a room, because by the time people realize there is a fire, it might have spread too far through the house for occupants to safely escape through a door.

Second, if there is smoke in the air, you must immediately get down on the floor and move towards the door or window with your face as close to the floor as possible. During a fire, the cleanest, safest air to breathe is down at floor level. If you stand up, it takes only one or two breaths of smoky air (which is filled with poisonous gases such as hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide) to make you unconscious and unable to escape.

Third, occupants should make sure that there are working smoke detectors inside their house or apartment–it does not matter if the occupants own the place or rent it. While the owner of a house or apartment has the legal obligation to install smoke detectors, and would have legal liability if any occupant suffered third degree burns or smoke inhalation from a fire where there were no smoke detectors, the occupants should be proactive about fire safety too. So make sure there are smoke detectors near the kitchen and in the hallways near the bedrooms–and also make sure that each one has a working battery.

Smoke detectors save many lives each year–especially during overnight fires. So make it your job to have working smoke alarms inside the place where you live.

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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A family in Clinton, Iowa is teaming up with firefighters around the midwestern U.S. to turn a terrible tragedy into an educational program that will probably save many people from suffering deadly smoke inhalation or severe burns due to house fires.

Four members of the town’s Molitor family–two young boys, their mother, and their grandmother–all died of smoke inhalation after a chair caught fire in their Clinton home two years ago. The most heartbreaking aspect is that this was a small fire, which started in a chair. Unfortunately, the burning chair generated a lot of smoke quickly, and the family members who stayed too long in the house (rather than evacuating immediately and calling 911 from outside) were overcome by smoke, fell unconscious, and died. It takes just one or two breaths of smoky air to make a person pass out. In fact, 70 percent of all fire deaths are from smoke inhalation, not burns.

Furthermore, “there was not a smoke detector in the house, and there wasn’t even a heat detector,” said one family member recently. “There was nothing to alert some of them until it was too late. That is the worst part about it–this tragedy could have been prevented.”

But since the fire, the family and the Clinton Fire Department have found a way to use this great loss to help save others. “The best thing we could do was get that information out to the public so it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” says one local fire official. So the Clinton FD created the “smoke detector project” just days after the fire. They will provide a smoke detector to anyone who needs one, for free–they’ll even install it.

In the last two years the Clinton FD has installed more than 2,500 smoke detectors, and their program is now being instituted across the state. Also, Iowa firefighters are working to create a national smoke detector project.

The best part: The local smoke detector project has already saved a number of lives, which makes the Molitor family’s terrible loss a little easier to bear. “If one life was saved, that is more than enough for them to use our last name in publicizing the program,” said one Molitor family member. “If a thousand lives can be saved, I’ll say that my family members’ lives were not lost in vain.”

Iowa’s Smoke Detector Project is organized by fire marshals from around the state. Other states around the country also have free smoke detector programs. For information on obtaining a free smoke detector, call your local fire department or type in the words “free smoke detector” plus the name of your state into www.Google.com.

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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When the skin is burned, it may heal by forming scars depending on the severity of injury. The more severe the injury (third degree burns), the more likely to develop scars and contractures.The aim of occupational therapy is to prevent or minimize the scars and deformities that may result from the burn injury. (See preventing and dealing with scars)

Occupational therapy is a skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence. OT may be started while the patient is still in the hospital and may be continued after discharge.

Occupational therapists evaluate the patient’s need for a splint, positioning (sitting, comfort in bed) and exercises. They institute diversional activities, teach activities of daily living, provide a home program of splinting and exercises before discharge and home visits (if the patient needs them) after discharge.

The patient plays a major role in the recovery process. It may be difficult in the beginning with the pain and stress associated with the exercises, but with time it will be easier. The more time spent following the program, the faster the healing process and the less scaring and deformities.

Occupational therapy may be hard in the beginning because of the pain that is associated with the burn and surgeries, the sensitivity of the skin and the fear that the patient may experience. With children, doing occupational therapy may be more difficult. Parents play an important role in encouraging the child, helping him/her with their therapy and praising them.

Some patients will be transferred to a rehabilitation center after discharge from the burn center to continue their rehabilitation. The duration and type of therapy will depend on the condition of the patient and the severity of the burn.

Patients may be discharged home with instruction to continue Occupational therapy at home; compression garments may be given and used with exercising.

Make sure to attend all outpatient follow up appointments with the burn clinic. Your physicians and therapists will monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed.

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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A study by researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine generated some surprising findings about the response of the immune system in victims of severe burns and smoke inhalation.

Contrary to expectations, patients who died from their injuries had lower inflammatory responses in their lungs than the patients who survived. “Perhaps a better understanding of this early immune dysfunction will allow for therapies that further improve outcomes in burn care,” researchers reported.

The study was published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Burn Care & Research. First author of the study was Christopher S. Davis, MD, MPH, a research resident in the Loyola Burn & Shock Trauma Institute. Assisting him was Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD, director of research of the Burn & Shock Trauma Institute.

Researchers followed 60 burn patients in the Loyola Burn Center. As expected, patients with the worst combined severe burn and smoke inhalation injuries required more time on a ventilator, in the intensive care unit, and in the hospital. They also were more likely to die. Also in line with expectations was this finding: Patients who died were older and had larger injuries on the whole than patients who survived.

But the immune system findings were not expected. Researchers measured concentrations of 28 immune system modulators in fluid collected from the lungs of patients within 14 hours of burn and smoke inhalation injuries. These modulators are proteins produced by white blood cells and other cells such as those that line a person’s airway. Some of these modulators recruit white blood cells (leukocytes) to areas of tissue damage, or activate them to begin the repair process within damaged tissue.

Based on studies conducted at Loyola and other centers, researchers had expected to find higher concentrations of modulators in the fluid of patients who died, because sicker patients tend to have greater inflammatory responses. However, researchers found the opposite: Most patients who died had lower concentrations of these modulators in their lungs.

The question is this: Why do some patients mount robust immune responses in the lungs after smoke inhalation and burn injuries, while others do not? The reason may be due to a few things working together: age, genetics, differences in patients’ pre-existing health conditions, or anything that might disrupt the balance between too much and too little inflammation.

Survival of severe burn patients has significantly improved since the 1950s, due to advancements such as better wound care and treatment and prevention of infections. But progress has somewhat stalled in the last 10 years.

The immune response to lung injury from smoke or burns “remains not completely understood, and additional effort is required to improve survival of burn-injured patients,” researchers wrote.

The study was presented at the 2011 meeting of the American Burn Association, where it won the 2011 Carl A. Moyer Resident Award for the best study submitted by a resident physician. The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, International Association of Fire Fighters and the Dr. Ralph and Marian C. Falk Medical Research Trust.

Loyola’s Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating more than 600 patients annually in the hospital, and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic. It is one of only two centers in Illinois that have received verification by the American Burn Association.

The study is among the results of research over the last several years conducted in Loyola’s Burn Center and its Burn & Shock Trauma Institute, the latter of which is investigating the lung’s response to burn and inhalation injuries.

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Burn injury may be severe and may involve any part of the body including the face. Facial scars are considered in general as a cosmetic problem, whether or not they are hypertrophic. There are several ways to reduce the appearance of facial scars. Often the scar is simply cut out and closed with tiny stitches, leaving a thinner less noticeable scar.

If the scar lies across the natural skin creases (or lines of relaxation) the surgeon may be able to reposition the scar using Z- Plasty to run parallel to these lines, where it will be less conspicuous.

Some facial scars can be softened using a technique called dermabration, a controlled scraping of the skin using a hand held high speed rotary wheel. Dermabration leaves a smoother surface to the skin but it won’t completely erase the scar.

After scar revision:

With any kind of scar revision it’s very important to follow your surgeon’s instructions to make sure the wound heals properly. Although you may be up and about very quickly, your surgeon will advise you on gradually resuming your normal activities.

As you heal, keep in mind that no scar can be removed completely; the degree of improvement depends on:

  • The size of the scar
  • The direction of the scar
  • The nature and quality of your skin
  • How well you take care of the wound after the operation.

If your scar looks worse at first, don’t panic because the final result of your surgery may not be apparent for a year or more.

As there are different methods of facial scar removal and each has its benefits and risks, you will want to schedule an appointment with a practitioner that specializes in facial scar removal before having the procedure completed because they will explain all these risks and benefits. You might also want to do your research on the practitioner that you choose because some are more experienced than others and you will want to choose the one that will provide you with the best results.

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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The death of a Chicago woman who stepped off an elevator in her apartment building–and into a blazing inferno–highlights the need for fire sensors in all elevators.

Shantel McCoy, 32, who was returning to her 12th-floor apartment on Lake Shore Drive, died from third degree burns to her skin plus lung burns after the elevator doors opened and she was hit with 1,500-degree air heated from gas and fire fumes coming from another apartment, according to a Chicago Fire Department spokesman. The fire apparently began inside an apartment on that floor–but although the residents managed to escape the apartment, the front door did not close behind them. This allowed the fire to spread into the hallway and heat the air throughout the floor to deadly temperatures. Nine other residents were injured in the blaze as well.

But the elevator accident never should have happened, says one longtime elevator-industry consultant. Charles Buckman notes that the United States’ engineering safety code requires elevators to have fire sensors on every floor and in the motor room. But in this building, Buckman speculates that “they must not have been fitted with sensors.”

In fact, the 21-story building, among Chicago’s older high-rises, was not required to meet safety codes that were established in 1975, according to the city’s building department spokesman. The high-rise was built sometime in the 1950s.

Chicago’s city council recently voted to put off until 2015 the deadline for all buildings to comply with a new ordinance requiring building-wide alarm systems that automatically trigger elevators to descend to the ground floor and shut down.

Buckman, who works for consulting firm Doherty and Buckman of New Bern, North Carolina, says that even older buildings should be equipped with fire sensors that automatically shut down all elevators. “The elevator should not have been available to this lady” once a fire started, he says. “The elevators should have closed their doors, returned to the first floor and shut down so that no one could use them” once the sensors detected fire.

Having testified in numerous personal injury cases involving faulty elevators, Buckman has a harsh judgment this time: “In this case, somebody committed murder,” he alleges.

The building’s management company did not respond to requests for comment.

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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PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur after the exposure to a traumatic event. People differ in their reaction to trauma; some will return back to normal after an exposure to a traumatic event, others will experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD develops differently from one person to another. Symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days that follow the traumatic event , but can also happens weeks, months, or even years after the incident.

PTSD is some what common. It can affect those who personally experience the trauma, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including law enforcement officers and emergency response workers. In the United States, 60% of men and 50% of women experience a traumatic event during their lifetimes. The diagnosis of PTSD was developed by studying soldiers from war, and it was originally called “shell shock syndrome.”

Many events and life situations may lead to the development of PTSD, these include:

  • Exposure to severe burns such as third degree burns.
  • Military combat.
  • Sudden death of a loved one.
  • Sexual assault or physical attack in childhood or adulthood.
  • Exposure to terrorist attack.
  • Exposure to natural disasters such as earthquake.
  • Exposure to a serious accident.

PTSD can happen in adults as well as in children. The symptoms may rise suddenly, gradually or come and go over time. In adults, the symptoms may include:

  • Any reminder of the traumatic event will produce upsetting memories and intense physical reactions like rapid breathing, palpitation, nausea, sweating and muscle tension.
  • Having flashbacks, bad dreams (Re-living the events).
  • People try to avoid situations and things that trigger the traumatic event.
  • People isolate themselves from others and may feel emotionally numb, they may be less interested or lose interest in activities that they used to like.
  • People feel irritable, anxious, have anger outbursts.
  • Feeling that they are in constant danger.
  • Having difficulty in concentrating.
  • Having sleep difficulty.
  • Having nightmares.
  • Having depression.
  • Having suicidal feelings and thoughts.

Children may show symptoms of PTSD depending on their age, young children may have nightmares, sleeping problems, fear and upset if the parents are not nearby, regression in a previously trained child such as bed wetting, and toilet training trouble.

Some people will develop PTSD after a trauma while others won’t; people will have increased the risk of developing PTSD if:

  • The person was seriously injured as a result of the trauma.
  • The person was the one who was exposed directly to the trauma.
  • The trauma was long lasting.
  • The person was not in control during the event.
  • The person had a previous mental issue.
  • The person had a history of prior severe trauma.
  • The person doesn’t get that much help and support after the trauma.

Treatment:

  • Counseling (talk therapy): this is one of the methods of treatment in which the person can get help and discuss his/her feeling that will help to get to normal life activities. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of treatment that helps is promising and is the most effective in counseling. Family therapy may be effective too as PTSD not only affect the patient him/herself but those who are close to the patient, this therapy help the family understand what the patient is going through and communicate better with him/her.
  • Medications: in the form of antidepressant medications.

Other diseases and conditions may occur with PTSD such as depression, panic attacks, drug and alcohol abuse.

  • The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome as symptoms of PTSD may get worse.
  • Seek medical help if you or your child has symptoms of PTSD.
  • Seek help and support from your family or your close friends, they may be able to help and support you.

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.