Burns- and Fire-Related Deaths

  • Joseph A. Prahlow
  • Roger W. Byard

Heat causes thermal injuries that may be classified as flame, scald, flash, contact, electrical, chemical, or ultraviolet. Tissue damage results from several mechanisms that are initiated when a tissue’s ability to cool itself fails to compensate for externally applied heat. The amount of damage that occurs varies depending on the applied temperature, the ability of the tissue to conduct away excess heat, and the time over which the heat is applied. Skin is most often affected and may respond quite differently depending on the body region involved and the age of the victim.

Burns to the skin may be classified as first degree (partial thickness), which is limited to the epidermis and manifests as red discoloration; second degree (deep partial thickness), which involves the epidermis and superficial/deep dermis and is characterized by blisters and skin “slippage”; third degree (full-thickness), and fourth degree characterized by charring of the skin and underlying subcutaneous tissues.



Thermal Injury Chemical Burn Death Investigation Carbon Monoxide Level Home Fire 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.South Bend Medical Foundation and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend at the University of Notre DameSouth BendUSA
  2. 2.Medical School NorthThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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