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According to the World Health Organization and EFESO Consulting (2015), 80,000 burn incidents in Egypt occur annually. Children under the age of 5 represent approximately 25% of total burn victims, and more than 50% of burn victims under the age of 20, (EFESO, 2015). According to the World Health Organisation, 37% of burn victims die because there are not enough burn centres providing medical care.

  • The death rate reaches more than 60% of the cases after one or two weeks of death due to infections contracted in hospitals. In 2014, a total of 564 children were admitted to the minor burns unit of Al-Qasr Al-Aini Hospital, 14 of whom died, making the incidence of death 2.5%. (http://www.journalrepository.org/media/journals/BJMMR_12/2013/Nov/Labib442013B JMMR5844_1.pdf)
  • One of the main causes of death resulting from burns is the severe dehydration suffered during the first 6 hours after the incident, largely due to a lack of awareness.
  • The first 6 hours is the most important in saving the lives of burn victims.
  • In Egypt, people who suffer burns which cover 20% of their bodies usually die; outside Egypt, victims with burns covering over 80% of their body generally survive. At the Burn Centre in Assiut University, cases where 60% of the body is burned results in death 100% of the time; cases where the burns cover anywhere between 40-60% die 70% of the time; burns covering 30-40% have a 50% mortality rate, while burns covering between 11-30% have a 20% mortality rate. People with burns covering less than 11% usually survive. (http://www.medbc.com/annals/review/vol_4/num_1/text/vol4n1p22.htm)
  • The number of intensive care beds represents 5.8% of the total number of beds in hospitals, which is low compared with global rates of 10-20% (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2017).
  • More than 60% of burn cases require a stay of 1-3 months in intensive care, which is a major reason for hospitals refusing to admit burn cases.
  • Burns are the third leading cause of death in Egypt and the 50th leading cause of death from injuries and diseases overall (2017).(http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/country-health-profile/egypt)
  • Burns are the 11thleading cause of death in children under the age of 9 in the world (WHO, 2015).
  • According to the World Health Organization, children under the age of 5 in the Middle East are 6 times more likely to die from burns than any other country.
  • 17% of children in Egypt suffer from temporary disability and 18% suffer permanent disabilities(WHO, 2018).

Reasons for burn injuries

According to the World Health Organization and EFESO Consulting (2015), 80,000 burn incidents in Egypt occur annually. Children under the age of 5 represent approximately 25% of total burn victims, and more than 50% of burn victims under the age of 20, (EFESO, 2015). According to the World Health Organisation, 37% of burn victims die because there are not enough burn centres providing medical care.

  • The death rate reaches more than 60% of the cases after one or two weeks of death due to infections contracted in hospitals. In 2014, a total of 564 children were admitted to the minor burns unit of Al-Qasr Al-Aini Hospital, 14 of whom died, making the incidence of death 2.5%. (http://www.journalrepository.org/media/journals/BJMMR_12/2013/Nov/Labib442013B JMMR5844_1.pdf)
  • One of the main causes of death resulting from burns is the severe dehydration suffered during the first 6 hours after the incident, largely due to a lack of awareness.
  • The first 6 hours is the most important in saving the lives of burn victims.
  • In Egypt, people who suffer burns which cover 20% of their bodies usually die; outside Egypt, victims with burns covering over 80% of their body generally survive. At the Burn Centre in Assiut University, cases where 60% of the body is burned results in death 100% of the time; cases where the burns cover anywhere between 40-60% die 70% of the time; burns covering 30-40% have a 50% mortality rate, while burns covering between 11-30% have a 20% mortality rate. People with burns covering less than 11% usually survive. (http://www.medbc.com/annals/review/vol_4/num_1/text/vol4n1p22.htm)
  • The number of intensive care beds represents 5.8% of the total number of beds in hospitals, which is low compared with global rates of 10-20% (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2017).
  • More than 60% of burn cases require a stay of 1-3 months in intensive care, which is a major reason for hospitals refusing to admit burn cases.
  • Burns are the third leading cause of death in Egypt and the 50th leading cause of death from injuries and diseases overall (2017).(http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/country-health-profile/egypt)
  • Burns are the 11thleading cause of death in children under the age of 9 in the world (WHO, 2015).
  • According to the World Health Organization, children under the age of 5 in the Middle East are 6 times more likely to die from burns than any other country.
  • 17% of children in Egypt suffer from temporary disability and 18% suffer permanent disabilities(WHO, 2018).

Reasons for burn injuries

  • Fire/flame injuries which represent 47% of cases.
  • Scald injuries represent 42% of cases.
  • Electrical injuries represent 7% of cases.
  • Chemical injuries represents 1% of cases.
  • Injuries caused by hot objects represent 3% of the cases.

This report was compiled from cases with a known etiology by EFESO Consulting (2015).

Awareness and First Aid

Types of burns: There are four main types of burns.

  • Firs-degree burns: These are burn that affect the first layer of the skin only.
  • Second-degree burns: Injure the first and second layers of the skin and beyond.
  • Third-degree burns: Affect all the skin layers and tissue under the skin.
  • Fourth-degree burns: Extend beyond the skin to affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and bones.

Emergency situations first aid:

If someone is on fire :-

  • Remove the person from the area of danger and call an ambulance
  • Put out the fire or the stop the person’s contact with hot liquid, steam or other material
  • Help the person “Stop, Drop and Roll” to smother the flames if their clothes are on fire

If clothes are on fire :-

  • Stop : Drop and Roll
  • Stop: Don’t run! Oxygen helps increase flames
  • Drop: Lie down, this stops the fire spreading and reduces its effect of the fire on the face and body
  • Roll: Rolling around smothers the flames
  • Help cover the person with heavy material like a coat or a blanket, to block the oxygen

Burn injury first aid

Cool the affected area :-

  • Hold the burned area under cool (NOT cold) running water
  • Use compresses if no running water is available
  • Never break blisters
  • Don’t apply ice, grease, toothpaste, lotions or ointments which can cause further damage

Protect the affected area :-

  • Gently remove burned clothing
  • Don’t remove clothing that is stuck to the burn – cut around it
  • Remove jewellery before the affected area begins to swell
  • Cover with sterile, non-stick bandage that won’t leave residue in the wound

First aid for Sunburns

Prevention :-

  • Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm whenever possible, as this when the sun is at its strongest
  • Keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton clothes
  • Wear a hat
  • Apply sunblock on exposed areas

Treatment :-

  • Take a cool bath or shower to cool down the burnt area
  • Apply after-sun lotion to the area
  • If blister form, DON’T break them
  • If you’re in pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Stay hydrated
  • Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke such as dizziness or vomiting

First aid for electrical burns :-

  • Don’t touch the ‘electrified person’ with your hands
  • Unplug the appliances or switch off the main power switch
  • Use a non-conducting material (such as wood) to push the person away from the source of electricity
  • Call an ambulance if the person is unresponsive

How to use a fire extinguisher :-

  • Remove the pin from the fire extinguisher
  • Point the extinguisher toward the base of the fire, NOT the top of the flames
  • While holding the extinguisher, press down on the lever. Let go when you want to stop
  • Spray horizontally back and forth across the fire until it’s extinguished
  • IF a fire extinguisher is not available, water and sand are the second-best alternatives – only use water if the electricity has been turned off to avoid electrocution

When to seek medical help :-

  • When burns are large or deep – bigger than the victim’s hand
  • Burns cause white or charred skin
  • Burns cause blisters larger than 5 cm.
  • Signs of infection appear, such as redness, swelling, fever, or oozing
  • The person is going into shock, signs include sweating, rapid, shallow breathing, and weakness or dizziness
  • If the person is pregnant
  • If the person is over 60 or under 5
  • Has a pre-existing medical condition such as heart, lung or liver disease

Fire prevention

  • Run electrical cords under rugs
  • Allow an electrical appliance or its cord to come into contact with water
  • Unplug appliances that are not in use
  • Touch anything electrical if your hands or feet are wet
  • Never place flammable objects on or near a lightbulb
  • Use water to put out a fire started by an electrical appliance
  • Walk away from a lit cigarette
  • Leave children near electrical sources, hot devices or liquids, matches and lighters unsupervised
  • Leave your cooking unattended as 70% of burns happen in the kitchen
  • Hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot food or liquids
  • Place of spray aerosols near an open flame
  • Use a hairdryer or other electrical appliance near the sink or bathtub

See it Through My Eyes

I went to the railway station one morning for what was supposed to be a routine trip. The usual hustle and bustle prevailed; people coming and going, farewells, laughter, the typical commotion of everyday life. I exchanged a smile with an elderly man standing next to me and he had just begun to say something when suddenly a train came hurtling in, there was a deafening explosion, and an inferno of flames everywhere. I can’t begin to describe the horror of the next few seconds, seconds which ended or marred the lives of so many innocent people. I saw the old man running, covered in flames, and desperately tried to beat off the flames that were engulfing me. The nightmare scene will live with me forever. All those innocent people, just going about their daily lives, talking, laughing, little knowing that this would be the fateful day that would end, or severely impact their lives forever. While I was lucky enough to survive, others weren’t so fortunate, and what I’m left with is the idea of how one second could change so much, how it can be the difference between life and death.

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