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First Aid — Emergency Burn Treatment

First Aid -- Emergency Burn Treatment

Emergency scenes where burns are involved may conjure up collective feelings of confusion, fear and nervousness. This is especially true if you don’t know what to do.

Taking charge of such situations is one way to ensure the safety of those around you, particularly, when it involves your children. Knowledge of basic burn treatment may prepare you for unanticipated emergency situations in your home.

Please Note: The basic techniques presented in this guide are not a replacement for medical help in severe cases. Medical help should always be sought in hospitals from medical professionals. For public emergencies, ambulance staff may provide medical assistance, as they work under the supervision of medical doctors.

The seriousness of the burn depends on the depth, amount of burnt surface area, body part burnt and age of the victim. Burns are generally divided into three severity categories, namely:

  • Mild.
  • Moderate.
  • Critical — these burns entail serious damage of soft tissue or fracture. Toddlers under the age of two are prone to critical burns.


The different types of burns

Heat, radiation or even chemicals can cause damage to the skin, or other forms of tissue. Burns in the home are particularly common with children. At this age, damage to their skin could become more severe.

There are various types of burns, from different sources, that children may encounter in the home or outdoors such as:

  • Burns caused by radiation. Radiation burns commonly arise from extensive exposure to the sun, resulting in sunburn.
  • Burns caused by chemicals. Many cleaning agents in the home may cause burns. These agents include strong acids and bases. Examples are bleach, metal cleaners or pool chlorinators.
  • Burns caused by heat. These include heat from candles, stoves or other heat sources that put children at risk.


What to do if your child has a burn as a result of radiation (e.g. sunburn)

  1. Immediately move away from the sun.
  2. Use a wet cloth/sponge to cool the area and relieve burning sensation
  3. Pat (do not smother) the skin dry.
  4. Apply medicated sunburn cream/lotion on the affected area. Follow the instructions presented on the package.
  5. Protect burnt area from sun exposure.
  6. If any blisters are present, do not break them as this may cause infections.
  7. Get medical help in cases where large blisters develop


Ways to prevent radiation burns

  • Apply sunscreen to skin exposed to the sun.
  • Wear protective clothing to boost protection against sunburns. Wear hats and lightweight fabrics that are dense enough to protect your child’s skin against harmful sun exposure.


What to do if your child has a chemical burn

If the chemical is a liquid, remove your child’s clothing as you flush the area with lots of water. Getting in a shower to perform this task is very effective. If the chemical is powder, first use a cloth to quickly remove any remnants. Then flush the area with lots of water.

  1. Flush the area for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Loosely cover the area with a fluff-free clean dressing. A sheet may be used for larger areas. Do not use tape on the burnt area to secure the dressing. Use it only AROUND the burn.
  3. If a burning sensation occurs, flush the area again for about 10 minutes.
  4. Perform first aid for shock (see below) and get medical help as you continue to monitor your child.


Ways to prevent chemical burns

  • When working with chemicals, make sure children are not nearby. For your safety, wear goggles and hand gloves.
  • Keep chemicals secured away in locked closets, where children have no access.


What to do if your child has a heat burn

  1. Immediately cool the area. Submerge the burnt area into cool water. Alternatively, you can pour the cool water onto the area. A wet cloth may also be used.
  2. Continue to cool the area to relieve the burning sensation. This decreases the temperature of the burnt area and reduces blistering, swelling and damage to  the tissue area.
  3. Immediately remove any tight-fitting clothing and jewellery that is in contact with the burnt area. If anything is caught onto the skin, do not forcefully remove.
  4. Once the burning sensation is relieved, loosely cover the area with a fluff-free clean dressing. A sheet may be used for larger areas. Do not use tape on the burnt area to secure the dressing. Use it only AROUND the burn.
  5. Perform first aid for shock (see below) and get medical help as you continue to monitor your child.


Ways to prevent heat burns

  • When preparing for your child’s bath, first pour cool water. Then, add hot water in accordance to the desired temperature.
  • Cool the hot taps with water in case you child comes into physical contact with them.
  • Keep hot liquids away from children.
  • Make sure the area around stoves, fires and other sources of heat are carefully supervised.
  • Warn your children about the dangers of fire, matches, stoves, candles, chemicals and the sun.


Preparing for shock

  • Continuously comfort your child as she may be in a state of panic and bewilderment.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • Place your child in what is called, a recovery position. The aim of this position is to keep the airways open. This position is for both conscious and semi-conscious individuals.
  • Cover your child with a blanket to retain body heat.
  • Keep reassuring your child as you check her airways, breathing and circulation plus vital signs.


The recovery position

  • Kneel beside the casualty.
  • Take the arm closest to you and stretch it outwards, parallel to their waist.
  • Take the arm furthest away and bend it into a -v’ shape with the fingers touching the near cheek.
  • Bend the far knee into a -v’ position.
  • Keep the knee in this position as you roll the casualty towards you by pulling the far knee towards you until it reaches the ground.
  • Make sure the casualty’s head is sideways with fingers below the head as the neck is extended.
  • Keep reassuring the casualty as you call or prepare to get help.

While prevention is vital, knowing what to do under such circumstances means you won’t have to face the agonising feelings of confusion, fear and nervousness. Perplexity can be turned into assurance. Even more, braveness over hesitance may provide your child with the immediate care she needs.

Now you can take charge of the safety of your loved ones. These steps serve as a mere guide, in severe cases or if you are uncertain, talk to a medical professional immediately.


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