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Burn Injury | Northern California Personal Injury Blog

January and February Bring Colder Temperatures and Greater Risk of Fires to Northern California

By Kelly Balamuth on January 30, 2013

During the two coldest months of winter, home fires become more frequent and more deadly. More people are spending more time inside away from the cold, where they tend to use alternative sources of heat to keep themselves warm such as electric space heaters and open-flame fireplaces.

Space heaters require a huge amount of electrical current, straining electrical wiring in old homes and apartments. According to the American Red Cross during the winter months, use of space heaters and smoking are the leading causes of deaths in dwelling fires. The Northern California burn injury lawyers at Balamuth Law know burn injuries are some of the most devastating, often requiring multiple skin grafts and surgeries and involving long hospital stays. If you’ve suffered burn injuries as the result of a fire caused by malfunctioning or defective equipment, we can help you onto the road to recovery.

Five Displaced in January, 2013, Triplex Fire

As reported by News 10, five people were displaced because of a January, 2013, triplex fire. As one resident exited the building located on the 1300 block of Q Street, he turned around to see flames towering 20 feet into the air from the building’s roof.

The fire began shortly before 3:00 a.m., and the Sacramento Fire Department extinguished the fire completely just before 5:00 a.m. The interior of the home was extensively damaged, leaving its five residents displaced and without food or clothing. Volunteers were dispatched to the burned home by the Red Cross. They helped the displaced residents with clothing and food and provided them with a temporary place to live.

Electrical Issue Likely Cause of Fire

Sacramento firefighters at the scene of the fire said that it was likely caused by an electrical issue. Electrical fires are not uncommon during the winter months.

If you or someone you care deeply for has suffered burn injuries and with them a growing amount of medical bills, contact the Walnut Creek burn injury lawyers at Balamuth Law. Call (888) 254-1234 for a free consultation.

What are the Different Types of Burn Injuries?

By Kelly Balamuth on September 14, 2012

A number of types of injuries can have a serious impact on the health and well-being of a person, but a burn injury is one of the most painful injuries a person can endure and is also exceptionally difficult to recover from. A burn injury is when tissue is damaged by things like heat, sunlight, or chemicals, and a burn can be caused by a variety of different things; however, the most common causes of burn injuries are gases, flammable liquids, scalds, and building fires.

Burns can range in severity and are classified into three different categories based upon how much the skin and its underlying tissues have been damaged. The following is more information on the three different degrees of burns:

  1. 1st degree burns: These burns only affect the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis.
  2. 2nd degree burns: This type of burn damages the epidermis and the dermis, which is the layer underneath.
  3. 3rd degree burns: The most severe type of burn, this involves damage or complete destruction to fullest depth of the skin and underlying tissues. A person with a third degree burn will likely need a skin graft.

Depending on the severity of the burn, treatment for a burn injury can include ointments and antibiotics to prevent and treat infection, skin grafts, rehabilitation for severe burns, and psychological support following the accident.

At Balamuth Law, our Walnut Creek burn injury attorneys understand the detrimental effects a burn injury can have on a person and the extensive recovery time and medical treatment that may be needed as a result. As such, it is imperative that those harmed as a result of another’s negligence understand that they have legal recourse. Our skilled legal team will work diligently to ensure at-fault parties are held accountable and that you receive the compensation you need to heal.

For more information on how we can help, call (888) 254-1234.

Practicing California Fire Safety to Avoid Burn Injuries

By Kelly Balamuth on June 27, 2012

Burn injuries remain a significant source of harm to Californians. The National Fire Prevention Association estimates that about 3,000 people each year are killed in home fires, and that another 200,000 need hospital treatment for their burns. Serious burn injuries must be treated in specialized burn units, and treatment is often expensive as well as prolonged and painful.

San Francisco Fireworks Accident BurnIn 2009, according to the California State Fire Marshal, about 10,113 home fires occurred in the state. 319 people were injured and 59 people lost their lives due to fires.

Home fires can result from many sources. Accidents or carelessness around hot or fire-containing objects, like stoves, space heaters, lighters, or matches, are one source of household fires. Defective products can also cause fires if wiring shorts out or they overheat.

In the summer, however, the most common source of accidental household fires and the most common source of burn injuries are fireworks accidents. Even fireworks approved for home use and used according to their instructions can cause serious injuries. For instance, some hand-held sparklers reach a temperature of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit while burning. Children are especially vulnerable to fireworks injuries because they may be fascinated by the light and colors, but fail to understand the danger.

Burn injuries can be extremely painful and cause permanent injuries or even death. At Balamuth Law, our trained Northern California burn injury lawyer understand the unique factors involved both in the causes of burn injuries and in the healing process. To talk to us about your burn injury and learn more about your legal rights, call us today at (888) 254-1234 for a free case evaluation.

Scalding a Common Source of Burn Injuries

By Kelly Balamuth on March 29, 2012

Scalding, or a burn caused by hot liquids, is one of the most common types of burn injuries seen in hospitals nationwide, according to a recent article on Patch.com. However, many families don’t think about the dangers of scalding. Worse, few people know how to treat a scalding burn properly – and improper treatment can make the damage worse.

Scalds are particularly common in microwaves. A microwave’s method of heating liquids often leaves them heated unevenly and can also lead to “superheating,” or situations in which the water becomes hotter than it needs to turn into steam, but stays a liquid. When the water is moved, it turns to steam, and can create splashes or clouds that can cause serious burns.

Northern California Burn InjuryWhen treating a scalding burn, use cool water, not ice. Putting ice on a burn changes the temperature of the skin too quickly from a too-hot burning state to a too-cold freezing one, which causes additional tissue damage and can even create frostbite along with the burn. Cool water, on the other hand, draws out the heat of the burn without causing additional trauma to the skin. Those who suffer serious scalds should not just treat the injury themselves, but seek medical attention immediately.

Often, scalds are caused by accidents or defective products. If you or someone you love has been burned in an accident, don’t wait: call the experienced San Francisco burn injury attorneys at Balamuth Law today. We will help you understand your legal rights and options and choose the best steps to protect yourself and your family. Call today at (888) 254-1234 for a free, confidential consultation.

Safety Tips for Using a Natural Christmas Tree

By Kelly Balamuth on December 15, 2011

The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of holiday decorating and excitement for many U.S. families. Approximately 33 million households set up real Christmas trees each year, and millions more opt for artificial trees, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). Dried-out natural trees, however, can pose a huge risk of fire, and over 500 people are injured each year due to tree-related fires. Here are some tips for using a tree that won’t increase your risk of a burn injury.

Choose a fresh tree. The tree you bring home should have a trunk that is sticky to the touch, and the needles should not come off in your hands if you tug or brush the branches. If you’re not sure whether a tree is fresh, shake it a few times. Needles that fall off when you shake the tree are a sign that it is too dry for safety.

Place your tree carefully. Trees placed near heat vents will dry out more quickly, putting you and your family at risk. Keep trees away from sources of heat or flame, like fireplaces, space heaters, and cigarettes. Try not to leave your tree up for more than two weeks, since time dries out even the healthiest trees.

Water often. Don’t let your tree “drink” all the water in its stand before giving it a refill. Water your tree at least once a day, and check the branches for snapped twigs or falling needles – a sure sign that your tree is approaching the dryness “danger zone.”

Burn injuries can cause life-long disabilities. If you or someone you love suffers a burn injury this holiday season, the experienced personal injury lawyers in Walnut Creek at Balamuth Harrington may be able to help. Call us today at (888) 254-1234 to learn more about your legal rights and options. The telephone consultation is free and confidential.

Practice Thanksgiving Fire Safety

By Kelly Balamuth on November 22, 2011

This time of year is full of tasty food, and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday always serves as an annual benchmark for festive menus. But with all the time spent preparing meals in the kitchen and the constant flurry of holiday distractions, the risk of household fires increases as well. In 2009, according to data by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the amount of residential kitchen fires on Thanksgiving was three times the daily national medium. For that reason, the NFPA urges every household member to practice fire safety when fixing meals this season.

Burn Risk PreventionData suggests that kitchen fires are the leading cause of residential fires and related personal injury. From 2005 to 2009, fire departments across the United States responded to an approximate average of 155,400 home blazes that involved kitchen apparatuses. Yearly, those fires resulted in an approximated medium of 4,800 injuries, 390 fatalities, and $771 million in property destruction.

To decrease the risk of kitchen fires this year, follow these fire prevention tips as advised by the NFPA:

  • Keep flammable items far away from the stove. These include stove mitts, wooden components, plastic or paper packaging, towels, curtains, clothes, and others.
  • Never leave a hot stove or oven unattended. Always turn off the heat, even if you only intend to leave the kitchen for a small amount of time. Remember: most destructive fires start when a cook only intends to leave the kitchen “for a minute.”
  • Use timers to keep on track of your cooking schedule, and to remind you when something is ready to be removed from the stove or oven.

And if a small grease fire does ignite, turn off the stove or oven immediately and cover with a lid. But if it continues for more than 30 seconds, dial 911 for expert assistance. If you’ve been injured in a Northern California fire that you think was caused by another party’s negligence, call the northern California burn injury attorneys with Balamuth Harrington at 1(888) 254-1234 for a free consultation.

Remembering and Learning From the Bay Area ’91 Firestorm

By Kelly Balamuth on October 28, 2011

Northern California Fire Safety PrecautionsOn the heels of National Fire Prevention Week (October 9 to October 15) comes another reminder of the importance of fire preparedness: the 20th anniversary of the 1991 Berkeley Oakland Hills Firestorm. The monstrous urban wildfire ravaged the area for three days and resulted in 25 fatalities and 3,354 lost homes.

Since that tragic fire two decades ago, state and local municipalities have invested many millions of dollars into heightening fire safety measures. These measures have taken the form of increased emergency response, vegetational management, and community preparations. There have also been large strides in construction and building requirements to which all property owners and builders must adhere.

Some of these updated construction and building requirements include:

  • Ensuring that roofs are at least Class A (protective against major fire exposure); wooden roof components are not allowed.
  • Using spark arrestors when re-roofing or updating with specific types of heating apparatus.
  • Adhering to new rules for safe wall coverings.
  • Using new standards for connecting electricity and power.
  • Taking additional measures if property is located in a region classified as high fire danger; measures may include indoor sprinklers, cautionary systems, streets for emergency access, and more.

As we previously blogged regarding fire prevention week, citizens must remain vigilant and aware to do their part in combating deadly fires and staying safe in the event of one. Preventative safety measures for renters and homeowners include: developing a solid fire escape plan, using proper smoke alarms, practicing safety in the kitchen and beyond, avoiding indoor smoking or open flames. If you’ve been injured by a fire accident in Berkeley or Oakland that you believe was caused by another party’s negligence, contact the Northern California burn injury attorneys with Balamuth Harrington at (888) 254-1234.

Guidelines for Preventing Fires and Burn Injuries

By Kelly Balamuth on October 21, 2011

Every household should have an active fire prevention and evacuation plan in place. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) calculates that over 386,000 accidental fires occur in homes every year. Based on data from 2006 to 2008, every year over 12,500 injuries and approximately 2,400 deaths resulted from fires.

The week of October 9 to October 15 was Fire Prevention Week, and the CPSC and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) worked together to remind families across the country about the importance of fire preparedness. The two government groups gave the following advice for staying safe, in addition to some other tips, as part of a special guide:

  • Be very careful with fireplaces and heaters: These household devices comprised the second biggest source of residential fires (just after kitchen appliances) during 2006 to 2008. Almost 57,000 fires and 220 fatalities resulted from fires in that period, according to the CPSC. Fireplaces accounted for the majority.
  • Beware of mattress fires: Mattresses are a common source of house fires. Make sure your mattress is certified by federal flame resistance specifications. Always safely extinguish candles when exiting any room, and never let kids play with any kind of flame.
  • Don’t smoke: And if you do, never smoke while in bed. Smoking caused the highest rate of deaths due to home fires, approximately 600 every year during the 2006-2008 period.

Additional tips covered in the CPSC/ NFPA guidelines include: kitchen and electrical safety, the proper use and placement of smoke alarms, and the formulation of a solid family evacuation plan. If you or a family member has suffered a burn injury in Northern California that you believe was caused by another party’s negligence, contact the Walnut Creek burn injury attorneys with Balamuth Harrington. Call 1(888)254-1234 for a complimentary case review.

Consumer Product Safety Commission Regulations for Consumer Fireworks

By Kelly Balamuth on June 27, 2011

This Fourth of July, many California families may choose to include consumer fireworks as a part of their holiday celebration. While consumer fireworks are legal in the state of California, laws on their use may vary by city.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued regulations about the types of fireworks that are legal for consumer use. It is a violation of federal law to import, distribute or sell fireworks that violate CPSC regulations. The CPSC has a laboratory where they test fireworks collected in the field to see if they meet safety requirements. Any devices that fail the CPSC tests are banned as hazardous substances.

Furthermore, the CPSC sets limits on the amount of pyrotechnic powder to minimize damages and injuries from fire and explosions. For firecrackers and other ground devices which are meant to have a sound effect, the powder limit is 50 mg; for aerial fireworks, the limit is 130mg. The CPSC also sets rules about device fuses and chemical composition. All fireworks must have a label with a warning that describes the function of the device and how to store and handle the device properly. Fireworks that look like candy, food, or other prohibited fireworks (such as mock M-80s) are entirely banned.

When purchasing fireworks, make sure that the devices you purchase are legal and meet the CPSC’s safety requirements. Even legal fireworks can cause serious injuries, especially when they are not used properly. If you or a loved one has been burned or otherwise injured by the negligent use of fireworks, our experienced Walnut Creek burn injury lawyers at Balamuth Harrington will investigate the accident to determine whether negligence was involved and, if it was, get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 1-888-254-1234 to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

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