In North Carolina, defendant Jamie Wilson, plead guilty to killing her goddaughter, Briana Faucette. The defendant submersed Briana in scalding hot water causing second and third degree burns over fifty percent of her body. Afterwards, Wilson let Brianna die in the home. Investigators estimate that Brianna died six hours after sustaining the major burns. Investigators estimate Wilson waited twelve hours to call 911. Investigators also reveal that Ms. Wilson was not truthful about the events that caused little Briana’s death.  

Between 15-20% of burns sustained by children are due to child abuse. Approximately 3,000 children die a year from burn injuries. Burns are widely regarded as one of the most painful and complex injuries that a victim may endure.  For toddlers, the most common type of burn injury is scalding burns from hot tap water, boiling water, coffee and hot food. Scalding burns are second to sun over-exposure as the most common burn injury sustained by children. A majority of the victims, under 4 years of age, suffer scald burns or contact burns. Sixty-five percent are scald burns because hot water causes more hospitalizations and death than any other hot substance. Death related to fire and burns is the third leading cause of injury-related deaths in children between the ages of one and nine years of age.  If a child is scalded by submersion in a hot tub, the injury is life threatening due to the large surface area of injury. The skin of a toddler is thin and prone to sunburn and injuries such as burns from hot liquids or flames. Developmentally speaking, the skin of younger children is thinner and therefore an injury from burns can cause a greater degree of injury. Keep in mind that a young child’s skin burns at a lower temperature and a greater depth than that of an older child or an adult’s skin.

Second degree - Second degree burns generally involve redness, blisters and pain. Second degree burns may cause scarring and infection to occur. It is deeper than first degree burns. Weeping from the burned areas is characteristic of second degree burns. Certainly pain is an issue. This degree of burn injury may take up to six weeks to heal if it is an uncomplicated injury. The temperature of the injury site may vary. The color may be red and mottled. Generally this degree of burn results from scalding or flash burns, depending on the length of exposure to the burn source.

Third degree - Third degree burns are evident when the burn injury is deeper than the skin. The muscle and bone may be involved. Third degree burns will leave scars. The skin is charred, white or leathery. There is no blanching. A burn of this degree is indicative of lengthy exposure to the burn source. Pain may or may not be present. This degree of burn usually results from flame, chemical or electrical burns.

For children, major burn injury is described as one that involves 15% or more of a child’s total body surface area.

To prevent scald burns, turn hot water heater temperature down below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The safest bathing temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Child day care centers and residences with small children should have their water heaters adjusted to no higher than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Newer water heaters located at private and public areas are set at lower settings.


Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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