e. Causes of Radiant Burns. The word "radiation" is a general term for the
process of energy being transmitted from one body through a medium or space and
absorbed by another body. Radiation burns can be caused by nuclear energy,
ultraviolet light, visible light, heat, sound, and x-rays. If asked to name the most
common cause of radiation burns, many people would answer industrial accidents such
as an accident at a nuclear energy plant. But, the most common radiation burn is
probably sunburn--radiation from the sun.
Section II. EFFECTS ON TISSUE, SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS, AND TREATMENT
OF ELECTRICAL, LIGHTNING, CHEMICAL, AND INHALATION BURNS
a. General Effects. Electric current passing through the body can cause severe
injury to body tissues. How much tissue damage occurs depends on the strength of the
electric current passing through the body and the length of time the patient was
exposed to the current. Electricity is a fundamental part of our environment. Man-made
electricity provides us with conveniences such as air-conditioning and pleasures such
as VCRs and television. Electricity in nature gives us the beauty of the aurora borealis
electricity is converted to heat that burns tissues in its path. High-voltage electrical
current can arc, generating so much electricity that it burns a person standing nearby.
Current passing through vital body organs can cause respiratory or cardiac arrest with
b. Determination of the Severity of an Electrical Burn. The severity of a
patient's burns is critical to the order of care he will receive, the type of care, and the
order of transport. For an electrical burn patient, an accurate history of the accident
should include the following elements.
Voltage and amperage of the current.
Amount of time the patient was exposed to the electricity.
Amount of moisture on the patient.
Amount of his body surface which came in contact with the current.
Amount of insulation worn by the patient.
Area of the body through which the current passed.
Type of current (AC or DC).