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Burns Do's And Don'ts

Try Not To Burn Yourself In The First Place, But If You Do, We've Got You Covered!

Burn cases reach an all-time high during the holidays. So let’s go over how to manage them!


First of all, there are different kinds of burns. These include thermal, chemical, radiation, and electrical. Thermal burns can be from fire, hot/boiling water, hot surfaces, and steam. Chemical burns come from substances like harsh cleaning solutions and other chemical substances. Radiation burns are most commonly from the sun. Finally, electric burns are from sources of electricity like electrical sockets.


Thermal, chemical, and radiation burns tend to be more superficial and a bit more obvious. As minor burns, they are typically red, tender, sore, and may blister. As major burns, they may appear black and leathery. Electrical burns are deceiving, as they may look like a pinpoint burn, but once the electricity finds the skin, it radiates down through the skin’s layers, down to nerves and bone. (Note that major electrical burns can also appear black and leathery) Electrical burns can be some of the most devastating burns, partly because victims don’t seek help, as the burn doesn’t look as serious as it really is.


When you see a burn there are a few things you could do:

  1. Ensure the scene is safe. IF THE SCENE IS NOT SAFE YOU DO NOT GO IN! You could become injured yourself, become a second victim and detract care from the original victim.

  2. Wear gloves! Protect yourself from the victim and protect the victim from yourself. Burns can become infected easily, which means the normal bacteria on your hands can cause significant damage to the victim.

  3. Put out the fire or stop the burn (remove chemicals causing burn, turn off the stove, put out the fire)

  4. Assess to see if the individual is still breathing. If they are not breathing begin CPR. (***no need to feel for a pulse)

  5. Remove loose clothing and jewelry. Do not remove anything that is burned into the skin. If there is anything burned into the skin, find scissors and cut around it.

  6. Call 911 for major burns and provide first aid care for minor burns.


So what are the differences between minor and major burns? Minor burns are small, less than 3 inches, are not on the face, neck, chest or palm of the hands, cool easily with a cool moist bandage and are easily controlled. For these burns, remove the substance that is causing the burn and remove loose items near the burn. Then rinse with cool water for at least 5 minutes and apply a cool moist gauze. Try to avoid gauze that are stringy, as pieces of the gauze can get stuck to the burn. Once the burn has cooled (burning process has stopped and it has been rinsed with cool water) you can apply Neosporin to the area. Cover the burn with sterile gauze to ensure it stays clean. When in doubt, seek medical attention!


Major burns are larger, are around the face, neck, chest, and palms of the hand and may appear to be black and leathery. In this case, wear gloves, ask someone to call 911, ensure the individual is breathing, stop the burning process (put out fire, remove chemicals, etc) and remove loose items from around the burn. Do not remove items that are burned into the victim’s skin. Engage in conversation and try to ensure that the victim remains conscious while covering the person with a blanket. Soon after major burns occur, hypothermia sets in, hence why we don’t emerge major burns in cool water.


To learn more about CPR and First Aid, join us for a class by visiting: https://www.bostoncprpartners.com


Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving from the Boston CPR Partners Team!



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