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First Aid Basics: First Aid for Burns

September 10, 2015 | Dr. Mary Williams, RN, DC | Comments

First Aid Basics: First Aid for Burns

Burns are serious injuries that require immediate attention. There are three categories, or degrees, of burns that range from mild to major. The type of burn will dictate your actions when it comes to providing first aid. Burn-related first aid is best performed by people who know what to do for victims and what not to do. It is a skill that is invaluable for someone who is a medical professional, is entering the medical profession, works with the public, or is a parent. At CPR Certified, we offer basic first aid courses online that will prepare you to provide aid for a number of emergency situations or accidents, including those that result in burns.

There are generally three burn classifications: first-, second-, or third-degree burns. First aid should be given to all three types of burns, although the extent and type of burn will affect the aid that is given. First-degree burns are burns that are minor and are not considered serious in most cases. They affect the outer skin layer but go no deeper. Third-degree burns are always major burns, and they are often white or have a charred appearance. Burns at this level affect the skin at all levels and go deep enough that fat and even muscle and bone are affected. Second-degree burns may be considered either minor or major depending on the location and size of the burn. When a person suffers a second-degree burn over large areas of the body or if the burns are on one’s face, feet, hands, genitals, or joints, their burns are considered major. Small areas of no more than three inches are considered minor burns. Second-degree burns affect all of the epidermis and the dermis to a varying extent.

Taking Action

When administering first aid, burn care’s goal is to make the victim as comfortable as possible so that further medical care can be provided if necessary. Consider the type of burn when applying first aid. Burns that are minor should be rinsed with cool water thoroughly to help cool the burning pain. If cool water is not accessible or if the force of the water is too much, saturate a clean cloth with cool water and place it gently over the burned area. Do this for 15 minutes. Next, remove any jewelry and items of clothing from the burned area, taking care not to irritate the burn. If necessary, cut away what you can, but do not remove if it is stuck to the skin. Gently cover the burn with a clean piece of gauze.

When someone has major burns, first aid techniques will differ somewhat. Burns of this type require more attention than what can be given via first aid. Burns that are major require emergency care; as a result, if you are giving first aid at home or at your place of employment, call 911 immediately. Unlike minor burns, major burns should not be immersed in cold water, as this may cause the individual to go into shock. Take care when it comes to removing articles of clothing, as they are more likely to be stuck to the burns; however, you should remove any items that still appear to be smoldering. Items that should be removed are things that can be restrictive when swelling begins, such as jewelry. When possible, raise the burned area so that it is above the victim’s heart, and drape a clean cloth or a moist sterile bandage over the burn for protection. In some severe cases, while receiving first aid, burn victims may stop breathing, and CPR will then need to be administered.

It’s impossible to know when or if you’ll be faced with a fire- or heat-related incident that requires first aid. Burns require immediate attention; however, the wrong steps can be more problematic than helpful. Be prepared for emergency situations and accidents by taking one of the courses that we offer here at CPR Certified. As you investigate our site, you’ll find that we not only offer training in basic first aid, but we also provide combined CPR and first aid training, certification, and recertification. The classes that we provide can be taken at your convenience and are presented by AHA-certified instructors. Contact us today so that you can confidently provide first aid while on the job, at home, or wherever it is needed.


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