First Aid Tips: Burns
Based on a module
by Fred Mednick from the Connexions website’s Health Education
Introduction by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life ALife
Continuing our ongoing series on First Aid Tips, this article provides a useful
overview of what to do if you or someone with you suffers burns on the body. --Don Rose
Let’s begin our discussion by presenting two general rules for dealing with
- Never put butter or greasy ointments
on a burn. They seal heat into the wound and may cause infection.
- Always seek medical attention, especially
- Burn covers more than one body
- Burn is located on any sensitive
area of the body (hands, face, feet, etc.)
- Burn is third degree
- Burn is caused by chemicals.
First DegreeFirst Degree
First degree burns (the mildest of the three degrees of burns) damage the outer
layer of skin.
- mild pain
- Immediately submerge the affected
part in cold water.
- Hold it under cold running water,
or place cold, wet cloths on it until the pain decreases.
- Cover with a clean, dry gauze dressing
Second Degree Burns
Second degree burns go through to the second layer of skin.
- rough, red skin
- extreme pain
- Immerse in cold water or have cold,
wet cloths applied to it immediately.
- Gently blot area dry. Do not rub.
Rubbing may break the blister, opening it to infection.
- Cover wound with dry, sterile bandage.
- If burn is located on arm or leg,
keep limb elevated as much as possible.
Second degreSecond degree burns should heal within a few weeks.
Third Degree Burns
Third degree burns are less painful than second degree burns because the nerve cells
in the affected tissue are actually destroyed, but the damage is greater. The burn
goes through to the third layer of skin.
- whitish or charred appearance
- Do not remove any clothing near
or at the site of the burn.
- Do not apply cold water or medication
to the burn.
- Place clean, dry cloths (i.e. strips
of a clean sheet) over the damaged area.
- If burns are on arms or legs, keep
the limbs elevated above the level of the heart.
- If victim has burns on the face,
check frequently to make sure he/she is not having difficulty breathing.
- Get victim to a hospital at once.
- Remove clothing on or near the burn
area. Never pull clothing over the head with a chemical burn. You may need to cut
- Wash the area thoroughly with low
pressure water for at least 20 minutes.
- Apply a clean dressing to the area.
- Get medical attention as soon as
If you suffeIf you suffer one or more burns on your body, are by yourself, and are
experiencing extreme pain or unusual appearance in the burned area, call 911. If
you are not near a phone, cannot get to a phone or cannot punch in the numbers,
you can still get immediate help if you are a member of Life Alert; simply press
your pendant to get in touch with live dispatchers within seconds, 24/7. They can
send help to you, which will arrive in a matter of minutes. Life Alert members who
are not at home can also use a special one-button 911 cellphone (an optional Life
Alert feature). If you don’t currently have Life Alert, see below for links
to information on this lifesaving service.
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Dr. Don Rose
writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology,
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