What to do if you find someone who’s been burned
Burns are very common injuries, and can be serious – and yet as A&E doctor Saleyha Ahsan demonstrates, you can easily help a victim with just a few steps.
Whether the burn is from dry heat, a scald from hot water or steam, stay calm, and follow these steps.
- Get the person to a safe place - away from the heat that’s caused the burn. Remove any jewellery, watch or clothing from the affected area unless it is stuck to the skin. If anything is stuck to the skin then leave it.
- Cool the burn - run the affected area under a cold tap for at least ten minutes. The faster and longer a burn is cooled the better.
Cooling the burn will reduce the pain, swelling and reduce the danger of scarring. Even if the patient says the pain has gone, keep the burn under the tap. The water may have temporarily numbed the area but you still need to cool the area under the skin, which takes time.
Don’t use ice. It could cause further damage or produce an ice burn which is very painful. Don’t apply any creams or lotions- these won’t help and are likely to make it worse.
- Cover the burn loosely with clingfilm or a clean plastic bag. This is to protect the wound from infection, and keep it from drying out.
- Seek medical help if necessary. If the burn is bigger than the size of your palm then the patient should be taken to hospital.