Burns and scalds

Severe burns


  • Burns - cool the injuryStart cooling the burn immediately under running water for at least 10 minutes
  • Calling 999

Dial 999 for an ambulance

  • Make the casualty as comfortable as possible, lie them down
  • Continue to pour copious amounts of cold water over the burn for at least ten minutes or until the pain is relieved
  • Burns - remove jewellery and watchesWhilst wearing disposable gloves, remove jewellery, watch or clothing from the affected area - unless it is sticking to the skin
  • Burns - cover in non-fluffy materialCover the burn with clean, non-fluffy material to protect from infection. Cloth, a clean plastic bag or kitchen film all make good dressings
  • Treat for shock

Minor burns



For minor burns, hold the affected area under cold water for at least 10 minutes or until the pain subsides. Remove jewellery etc. and cover the burn as detailed above.

If a minor burn is larger than a postage stamp it requires medical attention. All deep burns of any size require urgent hospital treatment.

Clothing on fire


  • Stop the casualty panicking or running – any movement or breeze will fan the flames
  • Drop the casualty to the ground
  • If possible, wrap the casualty tightly in a coat, curtain or blanket (not the nylon or cellular type), rug or other heavy-duty fabric. The best fabric is wool
  • Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.

On all burns:

  • Do not  use lotions, ointments and creams
  • Do not use adhesive dressings
  • Do not break blisters.

Related topics

Please note:

These hints are no substitute for thorough knowledge of first aid! St John Ambulance holds first aid courses throughout the country.

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