Augsuta hospital sees burns increase with cold temperatures

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This month’s record cold has led to an increase in burn patients, said the head of the Augusta burn center.

“Over the past week or so, we have seen an increase in burn patients over recent winters, but we have also seen far colder temperatures for a sustained amount of time,” said Dr. Fred Mullins, the president of Joseph M. Still Burn Centers Inc. and the medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital. “That has certainly had an impact on the number of patients we have seen, as well as the severity of the burns.”

The burn center treated 20 people over the particularly cold week for winter-related burns. The low of 12 degrees on Jan. 7 broke records set in 1970. Mullins said the burns were typical for this time of year, just more of them.

He said heaters are one of the main causes of burns during winter months, and he recommends creating a 3-foot safety zone around heating units that is free of flammable materials.

Heat-related burns aren’t the only issues doctors see when temperatures drop. Frostbite, which occurs when body parts are exposed to extremely cold temperatures, can cause serious damage. In cold and especially windy weather, frostbite can occur in minutes.

Hard or pale skin or the feeling of pins and needles in the affected area can be signs of possible frostbite.

“You can’t be too cautious with frostbite,” Mullins said. “If you have a question about it, get checked out. Often, the earlier it can be treated, the better the outcome.”

COLD WEATHER TIPS

• Have the heating unit serviced by a professional before its first use.

• Check to make sure all equipment, such as the fireplace damper, is working.

• Make sure the chimney is clean and clear of obstructions.

• Keep space heaters away from combustible items.

• Buy recommended fuel from reputable sources.

• Use a screen to control sparks from the fireplace.

• Don’t use an accelerant to start a fire in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.

• Do not overload the fireplace or wood-burning stove.

• Safely dispose of ashes and debris from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.

• Always make sure fire and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

• Do not use a space heater to help dry clothes or other items.

• Never use gasoline to start a fire in a fireplace.

• Never leave a fire, space heater or other heating source unattended.

• Make sure a fire extinguisher is available.

• If you have a natural gas fireplace, check all connections and lines before use.

• On space heaters, make sure electrical cords aren’t damaged.

Source: Joseph M. Still Burn Center

Comments (3) Add comment
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corgimom
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corgimom 01/13/14 - 05:02 pm
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May God bless everyone that

May God bless everyone that works in a burn unit, they are truly special people.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/13/14 - 06:21 pm
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Not Proven

The first sentence of reporter Bianca Cain Johnson's story has not been proven:

This month’s record cold temperatures have led to an increase in burn patients.

Just because more burn patients showed up at the burn center does not mean that the cold temperatures caused them. You need to present actual evidence, not merely a statement from an executive, to establish causation.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/13/14 - 06:28 pm
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Duh

Dr. Fred Mullins, president of Joseph M. Still Burn Centers, Inc., and medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, said, “With a little extra precaution and preparation, most people could have a safer winter.”

Couldn’t one make the same comment about spring, summer, and fall?

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