First Aid – Burns

Wintertime is candle and hot drinks time, and especially our curious children are in danger to burn their fingers or worse. Luckily, most of the burns and scaldings sustained in daily life are of low degree (grade I and II = redness and blister).

However, it is worth it to bring the most important facts of first aid in those cases to mind.

  1. Shout for help!
  2. Make sure- as in almost every emergency situation- that the place is safe, especially if the thermic source is electricity!
  3. If a whole person is in flames, it must be hold (!), best thrown to the ground and treated with water or a fire- extinguisher all over and/ or covered by a (fire) blanket or carpet to quench the flames
  4. Call the fire brigade and ambulance as soon as you or a helper have a free second to do so!
  5. To minimize further heat impact on the human skin, try to undress heat- storing clothes (if not clotted to the skin) and remove jewellery. Also take- off wet clothes.
  6. To fight pain, cooling with water is an option until professional help arrives but some rules have to be followed:
    1. If there is no relevant pain or the burned person is unconscious do not cool at all !
    2. Otherwise, use tap-water with a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius (do not use ice- cubes !).
    3. Only cool for a maximum time period of approximately 15 minutes.
    4. In a prolonged rescue time, you can consider cooling > 15 min. (only if still necessary and only until help arrives),
      1. if the burned area is less than 5 % of the whole body surface (the palm of the hand of the person burned is around 1 % of the whole body surface ! ) and
      2. in children, only if a leg or arm is burned. Continuous cooling of the trunk of the body or the head can easily cause undercooling in children.

Health problem. asian young girl scratching her itchy back

We have to be aware that continuous cooling over a longer time period is only good for pain relief. There is no evidence that cooling helps to protect the tissue from further thermic damage. It can however become harmful with regards to undercooling. Therefore, it should be switched to other means of pain relief (drugs) as soon as professional help is available.

To cover a burned skin use sterile dressings. Do not put on anything else !

Check status of tetanus vaccination !