How to Perform First Aid on Someone with a Burn or Scald

A burn can be caused by dry heat such as contact with fire, or a hot iron, or exposure to the sun. A scald can be caused by contact with wet heat, like steam or a hot cup of tea. The longer the burning goes on the more severe the injury. Your priority is to cool the burn as quickly as possible. 

What to look for

  • red skin and swelling 
  • pain in the area of the burn 
  • blistering may start to appear


What to do

Follow the steps below:

Step 1 

Start cooling the burn or scald as quickly as possible. Hold it under cool running water for at least 10 minutes or until the pain feels better. If there is no water available, you could use cold milk or canned drinks. 

Step 2 

Remove jewellery or clothing, unless stuck to the burn, before the area begins to swell. 

Step 3 

When the burn has cooled, cover the area loosely with cling film, lengthways. 

  • Do not wrap the cling film around the burn as the area needs space to swell
  • If the burn is on a foot or hand you could use a clean plastic bag
  • Do not use ice, creams or gels. They may cause damage and increase the risk of infection
  • Do not break any blisters that may appear, as this may cause infection.
Step 4 

Monitor the casualty, if you are concerned seek medical advice. If the burn has happened to a child or an infant you should always seek medical advice, even if the burn is a minor one. 

You can download our digital first aid guide which contains this information as well as other lifesaving first aid procedures.

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