Photo of David M. Schmid

Flame jetting is a phenomenon that occurs when flammable liquids, like gasoline or rubbing alcohol, are poured from a container and ignite causing a jet of flame, something like a flame thrower. Flames from flame jetting gas cans can spew to distances of 15 feet. The injuries caused by flame jetting can be catastrophic. Every year more than 4,000 people are badly burned and 450 are killed by flame jetting. Tragically, instances of flame jetting can occur in your own back yard with the gas can you use to fill your lawnmower.

In 2011, a Baltimore County teenager was severely burned by a flame jet. She was standing ten feet away from a backyard fire pit when another teen standing directly across from her poured gasoline from a gas can onto the fire. The resulting flame jet shot across the fire pit engulfing the young woman in flames and leaving her scarred for life.

Continue Reading Congress to Consider Bill to Prevent Flame Jetting Injuries

Picture yourself sitting down for a meal at your favorite restaurant. You order a drink and begin looking over the menu. A glass is placed in front of you on the table, and you take a drink. In an instant you feel your mouth, tongue, gums, and throat burning. Moments later you are vomiting. You are rushed to a hospital where you remain for days. You learn that your esophagus and stomach have been torn and perforated by a chemical mixed into the drink you were served.

Sounds like a nightmare, right? Unfortunately, this scene plays out more than you know. Every year in the United States an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 people are injured by ingesting caustic chemicals.

This week an Atlantic County jury awarded $750,000 to Richard Washart who suffered severe chemical burns to his esophagus and stomach when he was served a draft beer tainted with a caustic chemical agent used to clean the draft beer lines at the McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant at Harrah’s casino.

Continue Reading Chemical Burns & Caustic Cleaning Agents: Beware What You Are Served in Restaurants

Two years ago, a friend told me a story no parent wants to tell. A pot of water was put on the stove to boil. His daughter was able to reach the pot handle. In an instant, she grabbed the handle and hot water poured down and scalded her.

Since then, my wife and I had our first child. He is now two years old and is fascinated by the stove in our kitchen. He is constantly trying to climb the stove by pulling on the oven door and standing on the handle of the pot drawer at the bottom of the stove. It is a never-ending battle to keep him from trying to climb the stove and to keep his hands away from the stovetop and the hot pots and pans he finds so irresistible.

Children’s fascination with stoves and the tools we use to cook on them is not a new phenomenon, but it is an incredibly dangerous and costly one.

A five-year-old Missouri boy was awarded $35 million in lifetime benefits when a pot of boiling water slid off a stove that tipped when he stood on its open door trying to reach a pot. The stove was not equipped with an anti-tip bracket. When the stove tipped, the boy suffered severe scald burns to his groin and thighs. It was an easily preventable tragedy.

Continue Reading The Kitchen Stove: A Major Cause of Burn and Scald Injuries

For children who have survived burns, there may be no better opportunity for healing, growth, and camaraderie than attending a burn camp. This summer, I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer as a camp counselor at the Camp Susquehanna burn camp in Denver, Pennsylvania.

Camp Susquehanna is dedicated to providing children with burns the opportunities to face social and physical challenges, develop self-esteem, and promote a positive attitude while encouraging healthy independence. Camp Susquehanna is a safe place for healing, a place for children to share feelings about difficult experiences, perhaps for the first time. Life skills workshops combined with many fun activities ensure that the child with burn injuries enjoys special experiences. Camp Susquehanna strives to have every child meet the goals of building self-esteem, learning responsibility, and developing coping strategies to use outside the camp arena. One way this is accomplished is by providing challenge activities that give children the sense of “conquering” and accomplishment.

Continue Reading 2017 Camp Susquehanna Burn Camp

Imagine driving home from work and seeing smoke rising from beneath your car’s hood. You pull off the road and into a nearby parking lot. You call your spouse to say there is a problem with the car and within seconds, the car erupts in flames. Luckily, you exited the vehicle safely before the fire began. Luckily, no one else was in the car.

photo of vehicle fire
It is easy to see how dangerous and destructive vehicle fires can be.

This scenario was described to me recently by my brother. His wife’s car burst into flames as she was driving home from work a few months ago. An electrical failure caused a fire in the engine compartment. The vehicle was completely destroyed, but thankfully, she recognized the danger signs before it was too late and exited the car unharmed. Vehicle fires like this one happen more than one might expect and can have catastrophic consequences in terms of lives lost, severe injuries and property, damage.

Continue Reading The Car’s on Fire: Tips for Reacting and Responding to a Vehicle Fire

What do you think of when you hear the words “summer camp?” Fun, adventure, new friends? Summer camp invokes memories of all of these things. But for children with burn injuries, summer camp can feel like it is off the agenda—at least until they are fully healed. Luckily this is no longer true—there are a growing number of options in the form of specialized burn camps that cater to the needs of pediatric burn victims.

Children with burn injuries sometimes have difficulty performing common tasks due to physical damage. Some have problems with social interaction due to pain, isolation, or scars. Others may require continuous treatment—sometimes daily; sometimes weekly or monthly. Summer camps are seldom set up to meet the needs of these specialized functional and medical requirements. This is where the burn camp comes in.

Camp Susquehanna is one of these specialized summer burn camps. Continue Reading Summer Camps for Burn Victims—Register Now for 2017

While the physical injuries caused by burns often receive the greatest attention from medical staff, the psychological and psychiatric injuries caused by burns cannot be overstated. As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, more than 90% of burn victims experience some symptoms of stress within the first week of the injury and more than 45% develop chronic signs of stress that can be categorized as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after one year. Approximately one third of survivors of major burn injuries suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being discharged from the burn center.

Continue Reading Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Burn Survivors

The skin is an amazing organ, and the largest in the body. It not only protects internal organs and prevents infection by bacteria; it also regulates temperature, fluid balance, and Vitamin D production.

When the skin is burned, this functionality is impaired—particularly when the burn damages the interior layers of the skin. Burn victims must be kept warm to avoid hypothermia, must be hydrated, and their skin must be protected. In severe burns, the skin is at risk from infection at the open wound site and from surrounding dead skin that could affect healing. In many cases, the doctors and nurses use “debridement” to help remove dead skin so the patient can heal.

Continue Reading Healing the Skin after a Burn Injury

Transfer to a Burn Center is a critical need for patients with toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), or Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a related condition, because both damage the skin in much the same way as a topical or deep tissue burn. These blister-causing conditions are related to underlying infections or allergic reactions to prescription or over-the-counter medications. Both are life-threatening and life-changing because the skin peels off and must heal itself for the patient to combat infection and survive. Like burns, the resulting scars could affect the way a patient feels and how they will be treated once they return home.

Continue Reading Allergic Reaction to Medications Can Cause Tissue Damage Similar to Burns

Make no mistake about it. A severe burn is a major injury that will change your life and the lives of those you love forever. That is why it is so important to make sure you are getting the best possible healthcare. As a burn survivor, you may not have the strength, focus, time, or inclination to personally manage your healthcare team. You will have to rely on help from your family, your closest friends, and trusted advisors. Reintegration post-burn is a team effort.

I doubt anyone lives their life looking ahead to the possibility that they might one day suffer a severe burn. Most people, if not all, do not research their area burn centers and healthcare professionals until after a burn occurs. Luckily, the American Burn Association (ABA) has done the research for us.

Continue Reading Reintegrating Into Your Life After a Severe Burn: It’s A Team Effort