Burns first aid and prevention
We support the British Burn Association’s ‘Cool, call and cover’ advice.
Cool, call and cover
- Cool the burn with running cool tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery.
- Call for help – 999, 111 or your 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 while wounds are being assessed by health professionals.
First aid for burns
1. Stop the burning process:
- Get the person away from the source of the burn. Burning clothing should be extinguished using water or the ‘drop and roll’ method.
- Remove clothing, nappies and jewellery. Clothing can hold heat on the burnt area and jewellery can block blood flow if swelling occurs.
- Clothing or jewellery that is melted or firmly stuck to the wound should not be disturbed. But this should not prevent cooling.
2. Cool the burn:
- Cool the burn immediately with running cool tap water for at least 20 minutes. This may seem like a long time, but it makes a real difference to scarring.
- Cooling is beneficial for up to three hours after the injury, so even if it is not possible straight away start as soon as you can.
- Cool the burn, but keep the person warm. If a child starts shivering stop the cooling.
3. Cover the wound:
- Cover the cooled burn with cling film or, where this is not available, a clean non-fluffy cloth or non-sticky dressing. Cling film should be applied loosely, and not on the face.
- Do not use ice, butter, or any creams or pastes as they will not help the wound to heal and can interfere with any examination of the wound.
4. Get medical advice:
- For the most appropriate urgent medical advice, call 999 or NHS 111 or call your GP.
- You can also visit the QVH Minor Injuries Unit, open 8am-7:30pm every day.
Preventing common children’s burns
Hot drinks – never carry or pass hot drinks over a child or place hot drinks where a child can reach them.
Hair straighteners – never leave hair straighteners unattended while they are hot or place them where a child could reach them or pull on the cable. This is particularly important after you have switched them off as they remain hot for a long time and children often like to copy what they have seen adults do.
Irons – never leave an iron unattended while it is hot or let children near an ironing board while it is in use as the iron can easily fall or be pulled off by the cable.
Kitchens – kitchens are dangerous places for children. Never let them sit or climb on the counters and keep hot things well away from the edges.
Kettles – always keep kettles well back from the edge and do not let power cables trail where they might be snagged or tugged by little hands.
Pots and pans – never leave pan handles sticking out where they might be accidentally knocked or reached by a child.