Cool, call, cover can be crucial first aid for burns

Tuesday 12th October 2021

Cool, call, cover can be crucial first aid for burns

To coincide with burns awareness day (13 October) experts at Queen Victoria Hospital are encouraging everyone to know the basics of burns first aid because it really can save a life. Whilst many of the injuries the burns specialists see are potentially preventable, would you know what to do if the unthinkable happens and you’re first on the scene? Could your quick thinking make all the difference?

Scarring from a burn is not only physical but psychological. The impact can be lifelong and involve numerous medical appointments over a period of time. But by remembering the three C’s of burns first aid you can play a vital role in reducing the extent of the injury.

So what are the 3 C’s?

the burn with running cold tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (unless it is melted or firmly stuck to the wound).

for help for any burn larger than a 50p coin: 999, 111 or local GP for advice.

Cover with cling film while transferring to a hospital/GP surgery. The hospital/GP should apply a sterile dressing. Cling film should not be left on a burn for more than a few hours and only until wounds are assessed by health professionals.

8 staff from the burns unit stand in a group wearing light green scrubs and face masks

Burns experts say Cool, Call, Cover can be crucial first aid

In the last year almost 48% of all referrals to Queen Victoria Hospital’s paediatric unit were scald injuries caused by tea and coffee. Meanwhile almost 45% of referrals to its adult unit were scald injuries. These figures remain high year on year.

Nora Nugent, consultant plastic surgeon and burns lead at Queen Victoria Hospital (pictured above left), said: “Whilst accidents can happen, knowing the basic burns first aid mantra of cool, call, cover can really make all the difference. In fact applying cool water up to three hours after the burn can significantly reduce the extent of the injury.

“It’s important to remember the scars these injuries leave are psychological as well as physical and can present life-long challenges for the individual and also their family. So this burns awareness day please make sure you and your family know what to do because one day you could be the one providing that crucial immediate first aid.”

For more information contact the QVH Press Office at

20 minute image courtesy of the Centre For Children’s Burns & Trauma.