Emergency Treatment of Burns

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns are caused by contact with open flames, hot liquids, hot surfaces and other sources of high heat.

  1. Stop the burning. Remove the victim from the heat source.
  2. Cool the burn with cold water.
  3. Check breathing. Stop bleeding.
  4. Cover the burn with a sterile pad or clean sheet.
  5. Maintain body temperature and take victim to the nearest medical facility.

Note: Do not apply oils, sprays or ointments to a serious burn.

  • Sunburn may also be cooled with water. If the sunburn is severe or is very extensive, seek medical attention.

Chemical Burns

  1. Flush skin with water for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Remove contaminated clothing, but avoid spreading the chemical to unaffected areas.
  3. If the victim’s eyes are involved, flush the eyes continuously with water until medical help is obtained. Remove contact lenses.
  4. Follow steps 3 to 5 for thermal burns (check breathing, stop bleeding, cover burn, maintain body temperature and transport to medical facility).

Note: In cases involving some powdered or dry chemicals, it may not be appropriate to flush with water. If a dry chemical is involved, carefully brush the chemical off the skin and check the package or package insert for emergency information.

Electrical Burns

  1. Pull the plug at the wall or shut off the current. Do not touch the victim while they are in contact with electricity.
  2. Follow steps 3 to 5 for thermal burns.
  3. All electrical injuries should receive medical attention.
  • In homes where young children are present, consider using “tamperproof” or child-proof receptacles or receptacle covers.
  • Limit your use of extension cords.

General considerations

  • Remove rings, belts, shoes and tight clothing before swelling occurs.
  • If clothing is stuck to the burn, DO NOT REMOVE IT. Carefully cut around the stuck fabric to remove loose fabric.
  • Burns on the face, hands and feet should always be considered serious and should receive prompt medical attention.