Think outside the box when marketing towards certain age groups. Almost anything can be merch-ified. And customized water bottles definitely need to be a thing.
I interviewed Daniel, a college student, while we were waiting in the popcorn line at the movie theater. After I gave the standard introduction, he talked about how auctions could be really lucrative. I then asked him about types of merchandise that he and his friends were most likely to purchase. “Keychains. You know, like those Supreme lanyards… or I don’t know, maybe those Supreme fanny packs. My friend has one of those…” jerks phone out of pocket to show me a picture. “Or visors. I was commissioner and treasurer of my high school. We personalized some sick visors, and those sold out almost immediately. Oh, WAIT. Bucket hats are pretty lit too.” When I asked him to talk about some other non-apparel types of merchandise, he expressed his frustration over not being able to find enough personalized hydro flasks on the market, and he went on a long tangent about purchasing fake bottles on Alibaba and getting logos printed on them.
Burns can be devastating, but the kindness of others is a great healing power.
Angela, a family friend, is a large donor for children’s hospitals. Angela has never been affected by a burn injury herself, although her mother is a first hand burn victim. Angela’s mother was just 12 years old when a devastating accident, occurring from a lack of precaution, left her scarred on the face. Caused by boiling water, it wasn’t an easy time for such an incident. During this time period Angela’s family had trouble finding a doctor willing to undergo any needed medical procedures or major surgery, as. . .”injury was too much for them”, so they decided to resort to home remedies. After 2 years of triumph, a young Mrs. Bugati had recovered remarkably. She was blessed. . .” she recovered so well her face seemed as soft as baby skin.” Though some scars remained. . . “it was only noticeable on the forehead”, Mrs. Bugati was very fortunate to grow up in a kind community with kind people who treated her with respect. Later on, Mrs. Bugati met a man who saw her beauty and looked through the scars. . . “that man is my father.”
Prevention education could be in the area of “preventing a burn from getting worse”. Several of these situations couldn’t be controlled, but could’ve been better if the people knew how to stop the fire/cause of the burn.
Mindy is the mom of one of my friends. In her first job as a lawyer, she defended a man who was a burn survivor. He was a motorcyclist, when one day his crotch undid the opening to the tank of the motorcycle. Gasoline spilled all over him, and his motorcycle caught on fire. Miraculously, he came out alive. He was covered with burn scars, and his hands and feet had been burned completely off. Since then, motorcycle standards/regulations have improved. Mindy went on to tell a story about the girlfriend of one of our mutual friends. The girl was on a school field trip when she fell into a campfire. Instead of following the standard “stop, drop, and roll”, she panicked and ran. The fire spread to other parts of her body, drastically increasing the severity of her burns. Another story Mindy told was about her college friend, who was wearing a top with ruffles while cooking. She ended up catching her shirt on fire and experiencing third degree burns across her chest. Lastly, Mindy told a story of a girl at a frat party who got chemically burned when a gel candle exploded. Her boyfriend tried to help by grabbing her and jumping into the pool. This formed a chemical reaction that actually ended up worsening the burns. People tend to panic and stop thinking when these terrifying situations occur. When I asked Mindy about her thoughts on merchandise, prevention education, and emotional support, she was especially drawn to the merchandise/prevention/awareness idea. Additionally, the motorcycle burn survivor she was defending was involved in multiple DUI’s. She believes that was because he felt bad about his appearance. “Maybe if he had emotional support during that time in his life, he wouldn’t have been such an addict.”
Being able to connect with people may help depart from the negative stigma surrounding burns.
Madison, a friend, is a young college student. Though she has not had any personal affliction with burn injuries, her cousin experienced something incredibly devastating. Madison’s cousin worked as a volunteer for an orphanage in Haiti. Unfortunately midst a harsh earthquake, the building toppled down and she was trapped beneath the rubble for 2 days before she was rescued. She was lucky to have survived, even more so to leave without any severe scars, though she took on brutal chemical burns. Madison exclaimed, “my cousin suffered later on, as the incident was emotionally traumatizing.” When I asked her if she thought some kind of online community for burn victims would be beneficial to her cousin, I was told that at the moment she’s past the incident as it happened over 20 years ago, though she added that if it were an earlier time she believes it would have been a great help , “ people always feel comfort when they can relate to someone, especially when it comes to extremely traumatizing events.”
Families of burn victims, as a whole, need help.
Margie works as a burn nurse in the recovery room of a hospital in Vancouver, Washington. For the past 15 years she’s been helping burn victims by prepping them before surgery & helping them recover from the aftermath. A true saint, Margie’s input was quite insightful. When asked what she thought may be the toughest problem burn victims face personally, Margie responded, “ the public’s reaction to them. They walk into a grocery store and people are scared of them.” Margie informed me that they actually began to hold burn victims a little longer than necessary after treatment purely because the majority aren’t yet ready to face the world. To help them prepare for being back in the public’s eyes, they have them walk around the burn unit facility and talk to people ,”it helps them get comfortable and transition back into public.” Continuing with the interview, Margie exclaimed public awareness and support groups are huge aspects that deserve attention. The public doesn’t understand incidents like these, the societal standards tie a knot around the negative stigma bound to the scars of burn victims, “ I say it all the time but I love the phrase ,’beauty’s only skin deep,’ and I tell my kids this all the time, ‘ when you get older and start dating, get to know them because beauty lies not on the outside, but on the inside’.” She stated so many burn victims become scared of the world all because of the public’s reaction. But according to Margie, it’s not just the public’s reaction that’s tormenting, often times so many parents and families in their entirety can’t handle the scars of their child or sibling. Everyone’s so concerned on helping the child, so they try so hard to get them help, “but the families need counseling too. “When families never find a way to cope, many times they just stop coming, and soon the patient starts to stick to the doctors and nurses, since they’ve been the ones taking care of them and spending time with them.” Something that seems that many times it goes overseen, is the overall mental health of the family as it goes hand on hand in the victims recovery and health, this problems needs a solution and it needs emphasis. After informing Margie of our some of our idea’s that we have found to be the solutions we could offer, she gave her input. Upon discussion of an online platform/virtual community for burn victims, “ especially in our time of age with the heightened technology, it seems like it would be a huge help for most victims.” Though the overall focus can’t be just on the young patient, Margie’s believes what other burn organizations fail to do, is to support the family in their entirety. The topic soon shifted to our other big idea, discounted therapy from kind willing therapists, she exclaimed that she loved the idea but in light of there being, most likely, a shortage of willing qualified volunteers, Margie suggested group therapy. That way patients can learn from each other and share their stories and thoughts,” it would be especially good for families as they can come together and learn from others, what works and what doesn’t.
Victoria is a 17 year old high school student from Massachusetts. When she was three she got an acid burn from lime juice. She was making lemonade when she spilled lime juice on her arm. Since she was so young she didn’t think to wash it off and it sat on her skin. Lime juice being an acid causes acid burns when left on skin for too long, and in this case Victoria had to be hospitalized for over a month because of it. She said that she was self conscious at first but soon got comfortable with her scar, but what upsets her most is that it was such an avoidable injury had her or her family known that lime juice could cause a burn. And, while she said that she might not have personally used an online platform, she did say, “It would’ve been nice to know it was there.”
Kevin is an attending doctor at MGH. He typically sees one severe burn a month and two minor burns a week at the hospital (he also noted that Shriners handles most burn cases). He informed me that it is not uncommon for people to be hospitalized for multiple months as the skin gets treated. He observes that young children struggle most with the physical pain of the burn rather than the emotional. He mentioned that teenargers are generally more selfconcious about the scars than younger kids, and it can also be very difficult for teens because they have to miss school and are unable to attend social events. He also highlighted the emotional trauma for parents. He said that most parents blame themselves for their child’s burn and it can be very difficult for them. As a doctor he thinks that people need to be more aware of the risks and take more precautions in preventing burns.
*signifies people wishing to remain anonymous