B is for Burns – The A-Z of First Aid with Optimum First Aid

Last week the British Burns Association held their annual National Burns Awareness Day and on Saturday we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in the UK, pardon the pun in this week’s blog but it would seem that Burns are a hot topic!

Listed below are just some of the facts and figures recently released from the International Burn Injury Database (iBID):

  • The average cost to the NHS for a major burn is £168,155 but what is the cost to the individual and their family?
  • In 2015, 5,195 children under the age of 5 were so badly burnt that they had to be admitted to a NHS specialist burns service.  That is more than 14 toddlers every day!
  • The majority of injuries, especially to children and the elderly, occur between 3 and 6pm.

These are horrifying statistics. Our aim at Optimum First Aid is to focus on equipping you with the knowledge and skills to handle an emergency situation and respond with appropriate care that could make a huge difference to a casualty’s life or death. 

First of all let’s take a look at some of the most common causes for burns in the home environment.  Below are a list of potential home hazards: 

  • Hair straighteners: They heat up to temperatures of 220 degrees and take as long as 40 mins to cool down.  Make sure they are out of reach when not in use, especially when children are around.  I find myself constantly saying to my daughter to stay away when I am using mine but when they are distracted the message doesn’t always go in!  More than 250 children are treated for burns from them.
  • Hot fat, barbecues, garden fires and bonfires: It is the adult’s fascination in playing with fire and barbecues that causes these.  Ensure children are kept away from fireworks, BBQs or garden chemicals.
  • Sunburn: A notable cause of injury in 5-14 yr olds.  As you escape the winter to find some sun, make sure you take the necessary preventative measures and always check that sunscreens are at least a  minimum factor 50+ for children.
  • Hot drinks: Most common cause of scalds in children.  Do not drink whilst nursing a baby or child.  288 children a month require admission to an NHS Burns Service
  • Central Heating Radiators / Electric Cookers / Irons / Candles: Do not leave children unattended in the kitchen or near fires, heaters and/or irons.  Use fire guards and place candles, lighters & matches out of reach in a clear area.
  • Baths: Fill with cold water and top up with hot water.  Check the temperature before entering the water, taking particular care with children and the elderly.  Babies skin is 15 times thinner than an adult.  

Be Aware:

  • Young children do not know to pull away from heat!  
  • Preventative action is best! If a person is injured they could need repeated surgery for years.
  • If an injured person cannot feel any pain, there is a strong chance that the nerves are damaged resulting in 3rd degree burns.
  • Do not contaminate yourself or other areas of the body if the cause is a chemical burn.

Our first and most important advice in treating a burn is to remember the simple mantra: COOL, CALL & COVER


  • Cool burn with running water for a minimum of 20 mins.
  • Remove all clothing and jewellery unless melted or firmly stuck to the burn.  
  • Call for help 999/112 or local GP service.  Especially, if:
    • Greater than 1% (1% = palm of injured person including fingers)
    • Hands, face, feet, genital areas
    • It’s a Child who has been injured
    • Burn goes all the way around a limb
    • Full thickness burn (unlikely to feel any pain)
    • If not sure


  • Cover with cling film or sterile, non fluffy dressing or cloth but make sure you do not wrap the dressing too tight as the area may continue to swell.  Discard the first 2 turns of the film.

Top Tip: Cooling the burn for an extended amount of time can significantly improve the individual’s recovery from the injury.


  • Cool the burn using ice
  • Burst blisters
  • Touch the burn
  • Apply creams, ointments or fats
  • Apply adhesive dressings
  • Remove clothing that has stuck to the burn

…Finally have fun this Bonfire night and stay safe, Remember, Remember, First Aid for November!