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First Aid: Burns and Scalds

By: Clare Birtles - Updated: 14 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
First Aid Burns Scalds Severe Burns

Prompt treatment of burns and scalds may help to limit damage and alleviate pain. Treatment is outlined below:

Severe Burns

  • Start cooling the burn immediately under running water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Dial 999 for an ambulance.
  • Make the casualty as comfortable as possible, lie them down.
  • Continue to pour copious amounts of cold water over the burn for at least 10 minutes or until the pain is relieved.
  • You should remove all jewellery or clothing from the affected area, unless it is sticking to the skin. However, ensure that you are wearing disposable gloves before doing this.
  • Put a clean, non-fluffy material over the burn to protect from infection. Cloth, a clean plastic bag or cling film all make good dressings.
  • Treat for shock

Minor Burns

For minor burns, run cold water over the affected area for a minimum of 10 minutes or until the pain eases. Remove any jewellery etc. and cover the burn as detailed above.

If a minor burn is larger than a postage stamp, it requires medical attention. All deep burns of any size require urgent hospital treatment.

Clothing on fire

  • Stop the casualty panicking or running - any movement or breeze will fan the flames.
  • Drop the casualty to the ground.
  • If you can, wrap a coat, blanket or curtain (not the nylon or cellular type), rug or other heavy-duty fabric tightly around the casualty. The best fabric is wool.
  • Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.
  • Use creams, lotions or ointments
  • Use adhesive dressings
  • Break blisters

Our thanks to St John Ambulance for providing this information.

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