Burns – how to help
October 21st is National Burns Awareness Day when people are encouraged to be more alert to the dangers of burns and understand the best way to help should an accident happen. In the run up to Halloween and Bonfire Night it is particularly important to be vigilant to fire hazards and prevent burns occurring in the first place.
Burns are frightening and the pain and damage caused can be devastating. Knowing what to do immediately someone is burnt can radically reduce the amount of pain and scarring experienced and can often lead to a full recovery without hospitalisation.
All BURNS SHOULD BE TREATED IMMEDIATELY WITH COOL RUNNING WATER
- Immediately, but extremely carefully remove loose clothing covering the burn.
DO NOT TAKE CLOTHES OFF IF THERE IS ANY RISK THAT THE SKIN HAS STUCK TO THEM OR IF THE SKIN HAS BLISTERED.
- Put the affected area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes. Remember you are cooling the burn and not the casualty.
- Keep the casualty warm and dry and watch for any signs of shock
- Remove jewellery that may become tight as the burn swells
- Phone an ambulance, particularly if a large area is affected, or if the skin is broken or blistered and keep the area under cool running water whilst you are waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
A burn is measured using the size of your hand – your palm is roughly equivalent to 1% of your body. Therefore a burn measuring just the size of a 50 pence can be very serious for a baby or small child.
Burns to the; hands, face, feet, genitals, airways, or a burn that extends all the way around a limb, are particularly serious. Keep the burnt area under cool running water until the paramedic arrives.
WEAR STERILE GLOVES WHEN DEALING WITH BURNS
If it is a child that is burnt phone for an ambulance and keep cooling their burn under cool running water.
Dressing a burn
A burn should never be dressed until it has been cooled for at least 15 minutes. Covering a burn reduces the risk of infection and reduces pain by covering exposed nerve endings.
If a child is burnt and the burn is bad enough that you need to dress it, phone an ambulance whilst continuing to cool it under running water. The paramedics will dress it for you.
If you want to dress the burn: cling film is a good temporary dressing. Ensure the burn is thoroughly cooled before dressing it. Discard the first couple of turns of cling film and place an inner piece loosely over the burn. Plastic bags and sterile non-fluffy dressings also make useful dressings.
Burns dressings cool the burn and help reduce pain, ideally the burn should be cooled for at least 10 minutes before dressing and you will still need another dressing over the top.
Always get a medical professional to assess a burn.
- Remove anything that has stuck to a burn
- Touch a burn
- Burst blisters
- Apply any creams, lotions or fats
- Apply tight dressings, tapes or use anything fluffy
It is highly recommended that you attend a practical or online First Aid course to learn how to help in a medical emergency
First Aid for life and onlinefirstaid.com provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical First Aid course.