Identifying And Treating Burns

Improper handling of fireworks can lead to a variety of injuries, from minor burns to the loss of a limb, or even death. Burns are by far the most common injuries, so we offer this information with the hope that you will never need to use it, but will be informed in the event you do need it.

Burns are among the most excruciatingly painful physical injuries. Even a relatively minor burn can be intensely painful. A burn occurs when the skin, and often other bodily organs, come in contact with heat, radiation, electricity, or chemicals for a period long enough to cause damage. Burns can affect many body parts aside from the site of the burn. Nerves, blood vessels, bones, muscles, and other areas may be involved when another part of the body is injured.

Burns are generally put into three categories. These classes are first, second, and third degree burns. The burn category indicates the severity of the burn along with the amount of body area covered by the burn injury.


The first-degree burn usually produces a pink to reddish color on the burned skin. Mild swelling, tenderness, and pain are also symptoms of a first-degree burn. This is the least serious type of burn and involves only the upper layer of skin, the epidermis.


Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and the second skin layer, the dermis. The epidermis is destroyed and burned-through in a second-degree burn. There are the same symptoms of pain and swelling but the skin color is usually a bright red and blisters are produced. Usually second-degree burns produce scarring. Second degree burns may take from one to three weeks to heal but are considered minor if they cover no more than 15% of the total body area in adults and 10% body area in children. These burns require medical attention and medication to heal properly.


The third-degree burn may appear charred or have patches which appear white, brown or black. Both the dermis and epidermis are destroyed and other organs, tissues and bones may also be involved. Third-degree burns are considered the most serious. They produce deep scars that many times require cosmetic or reconstructive surgery and skin grafts. Pain may or may not be present since usually nerve endings which transmit pain have been destroyed in this type burn.