BBQs, campfires, and firepots – all make for an idyllic evening on the patio. The dancing flames can be captivating; activating some atavistic part of our brain, signaling comfort and security. And with that, we sometimes let down our guard and we forget: these are dangerous things. They can and do cause very serious injuries.
It starts with a burn. But the effects can be much more lasting than a flash of searing pain.
First, the skin may heal with scar tissue. Or, if severe, there may be a need for excision (removal) and grafting skin from other parts of the body. Either way, it may not grow, stretch, repair, sweat, or react to temperature like normal skin. Its stiffness may restrict movement. There may be a need for repeated surgeries over a lifetime to loosen and release the skin. Damage to nerve endings and oil glands may mean dry skin that’s perpetually itchy and sensitive to the sun.
Second, burns may lead to changes in the entire body’s metabolic function. This can cause fatigue and decreased endurance, strength, and range of motion. Burns as little as 10 to 15% can cause metabolic changes that last for a long time.
Third, is the troubling impact on mental health. Getting burned can be a cause of post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders. Obvious scars can be devastating to one’s body image. These issues can be the most difficult to heal.
Please be careful with these backyard staples. The lifelong implications of an accident can be significant. Fire demands your respect. Please heed it. And please watch out for those who cannot – especially children and impaired guests.