Bonfire night first aid

St John Ambulance volunteer at fireworks display

Every year, around 1,000 people visit A&E with a firework-related injury in the four weeks around 5 November.

The most common injuries around Bonfire Night are burns and debris in the eye - from bonfires, fireworks or sparklers; scalds - from hot drinks, and smoke inhalation. Our first aid tips are simple to learn and will help you be prepared to treat any of these injuries.

Burns or scalds

If someone’s got a burn or scald:

  • • Run it under cold water for at least 10 minutes. You need to completely cool their skin to prevent pain, scarring or further damage.
  • • If the burn is on a child, or if you think it’s a serious burn (for example, if it’s deep, larger than the size of their hand, or on the face, hands or feet) call 999/112 for an ambulance.
  • • Remove any jewellery or clothing near the burn (unless they’re stuck to it).
  • • Don’t pop any blisters or apply creams – this can make it worse.
  • • Once cooled, cover the burn with cling film or a plastic bag.
  • • If necessary, treat them for shock , by laying them down with their legs raised and supported above the level of their heart.

More information about burns and scalds

Debris in the eye

If someone’s got something in their eye:

  • • Tell them not to rub it, so they don’t make it worse.
  • • Pour clean water over their eye to wash out what’s in there and/or to cool the burn.
  • • If this doesn’t work, try to lift the debris out with a damp corner of a clean tissue.
  • • If this doesn’t work either, don’t touch anything that’s stuck in their eye – cover it with a clean dressing or non-fluffy material.
  • • Then take or send them straight to hospital.

More information about eye injuries

Smoke inhalation

If someone’s inhaled smoke fumes:

  • • Move them away from the smoke so they can breathe in some fresh air.
  • • Help them sit down in a comfortable position and loosen any tight clothing around their neck to help them breathe normally.
  • • If they don’t recover quickly, call 999/112 for an ambulance.