The Importance of Burn Prevention

Written By Brian Joho and Nancy Humes, LVHN Regional Burn Center

The proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as relevant today as it was when Benjamin Franklin first penned it.  When Ben first gave that sage advice in 1736 he was arguing for the formation of the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia as a way to prevent the devastating social and economic losses a major fire can inflict to a city.  Since

Nancy Humes, LVHN Regional Burn Center, and Jessica Banks, Burn Prevention Network

Nancy Humes, LVHN Regional Burn Center, and Jessica Banks, Burn Prevention Network

then there has been much good work done by those who seek to prevent the suffering inflicted by fire.  We have seen the overall rate of burn injuries decrease across all demographic groups across the country.  With this decrease in the number of total burns there has been an increase in the survivability of even the most severe burn injuries due to advances in medical treatments.  Despite this good news there is still a price to be paid for those who are injured with burns.  Survivability may have gone up but those who survive still suffer years of physical and psychological rehabilitation.  The scars that form after the wound is healed can cause functional disabilities that never allow the survivor to achieve the mobility they had prior to their injury.  Disfiguring scars to the face or other areas of the body can be catastrophic to a person’s self-esteem.  And scars to the psyche often leave people crippled with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or depression.

This is why the Regional Burn Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital supports the work of the Burn Prevention Network.  While we may have advanced treatment options for those who suffer a burn injury we realize, like Ben, that preventing these injuries is a better option than any treatment we can offer.  All demographics suffer from burn injuries and ensuring there is a robust burn prevention outreach program to everyone in our coverage area is important to us.  Partnering with the Burn Prevention Network ensures burn prevention education can be provided to the largest cities as well as the smallest townships in Eastern Pennsylvania, Western New Jersey and the counties in the Southern Tier of New York State.

Along with their prevention work the Burn Prevention Network is also involved with our survivor community.   At Camp Susquehanna, which is run by the Burn Prevention Network, burn survivors who are children interact with their peers who have also suffered injuries.  As these survivors grow older many remain active in the camp and become counselors to the younger survivors.  This important work facilitates the healing process.  Burn Camp allows young bodies to run and play while providing a supportive environment free of judgement.  It is also rewarding for members of the burn treatment team, which includes firefighters, EMS and hospital staff who provide care to these children in the immediate aftermath of the injury to see how they heal and return to a fulfilling life.

Suffering a severe burn has often been described as one of the most painful experiences a person can have.  Compiled on top of this pain is the potential for horrific disabilities and psychological trauma.  Those of us who work with burn injured patients would like nothing more than to see our professions rendered unnecessary which is why we support the work of the Burn Prevention Network.


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