First Aid Actions for Burn

How can you help a person who gets burned by either sun, heat, fire, chemical or electricity?

1.Remove the heat source

The first step is to stop further damage. You can remove the heat source from the patient, or remove the patient from the heat source, whichever is easiest and safest.

For electrical burns, make sure the power source is off before you approach the burned person.

If any clothing is wet with hot liquid or affected by a chemical splash, remove it quickly and carefully. 

2.Make sure the person burned is breathing. You can help with the rescue breathing if necessary.

3.Identify the degree of burn

  • First degree – the skin turns red, but it does not blister. It is somewhat painful, like a sunburn. It’s superficial.
  • Second degree – the outer layer of skin is burned, and some part of the dermis is damaged. The burn will be very painful and will likely develop blisters.
  • Third degree – the skin will be charred or white. The epidermis and dermis (top two layers of skin) are irreversibly damaged.

4.Call 911 or seek immediate care for major burns:

  • Third-degree burn
  • With patches of white, brown or black
  • Deep
  • Larger than 3 inches (about 8 centimeters) in diameter
  • Covering the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint

Major burns:

Remove restrictive items, including tight clothing, belts, rings, necklaces, especially around the burn area and the neck, these areas swell quickly.

Cover the area of the burn. Use a non-adherent dressing, like a piece of clean plastic kitchen wrap, or a cool, moist bandage or a clean cloth.

Don’t immerse large severe burns in water. Doing so could cause a serious loss of body heat (hypothermia).

Elevate the burned area. Raise the wound above heart level, if possible.

Watch for signs of shock. Signs include fainting, pale complexion or breathing in a notably shallow fashion.

Minor burns:

Cool the burn. Run cool water over the area of the burn or soak it in a cool water bath (not ice water), wet compress until the pain eases.

Remove rings or other tight items from the burned area. Try to do this quickly and gently, before the area swells.

Don’t break blisters. Fluid-filled blisters protect against infection. If a blister breaks, clean the area with water (mild soap is optional). Apply an antibiotic ointment. But if a rash appears, stop using the ointment.

Bandage the burn. Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage (not fluffy cotton, must be non adhering). Wrap it loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the area, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.

If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).



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