May as well fill a nodeshell and recycle the bits...

Thermal (heat) burns damage the layers of the skin. In general, first-degree (superficial) burns refer to the outer layer of skin (epidermis) becoming damaged. Second-degree burns (partial-thickness) extend into the inner layer of skin. Third-degree (full-thickness) burns involve all the skin layers, and usually involve the layers of fat and muscles underneath.

To treat someone with a thermal burn:

  1. Stop any burning from continuing, either by dousing the flames or the old STOP, DROP & ROLL technique. Do NOT let them run around (called Screaming Alphas in the US Navy). Running only fans the flames, and since they are standing up they can inhale the flames/smoke/heat and damage their lungs.
  2. Check their awareness, breathing and circulation. You may need to treat them for shock.
  3. Determine the depth of the burn. If it is serious, get them to medical assistance immediately. If it is a first-degree burn, you can get ointments and sprays that can relieve the burning.
  4. Determine the extent of the burn. You can use the Rule of Nines or the Rule of Palm to help figure out the surface area.
  5. Determine where the burns are. While checking, remove any jewelry (like watches), since swelling may make them difficult to remove later. Be kind, don't steal them. If a bystander causes problems, let them know why you are removing them and put them in the victim's pocket, if possible. Burns to the face, hands, feet and genitals are more severe than other body parts.
  7. Determine if other injuries take precedance (severe bleeding, etc). Look for medic alert tags.
  8. If:
    • A first-degree burn is over 50% of the body or
    • A second-degree burn covers 20% of the body, or
    • A third-degree burn, or
    • The victim is under 5 years of age, or
    • The victim is over 55 years of age, or
    • The victim has difficulty breathing, or
    • The burn is electrical in nature, or
    • Child abuse is suspected, or
    • Other injuries exist
    Take the person to medical care immediately.
  9. Care of first-degree burns:
    • Immerse the burned area in cold water, or apply a cold compress. This relieves the pain and prevents the heat from the burn from damaging deeper tissue.
    • If it is a first degree burn, you may give them Tylenol if they are lucid and not allergic to it.
    • Keep the injured area elevated.
    • Apply an aloe-vera gel or moisturizer lotion to reduce itching and peeling.
  10. Care of second-degree burns:
    • Follow steps 1 and 2 above.
    • After the skin is cooled, apply a thin layer of bacitracin ointment. This does not sterilize the wound, but it helps to keep it from becoming infected.
    • Cover with a clean, dry cloth or dressing.
    • Do not cool more than 20% of a victim's body (10% if a child).
    • Do not break blisters, as they may become infected.
    • Have the victim drink as much water as they can stand.
    • If serious enough, seek medical attention.
  11. Care of third-degree burns:
    • Cover the burn with dry, non-sticking sterile dressings.
    • Treat the victim for shock by elevating the legs and keeping the victim warm.
    • Seek medical attention immediately.

Take a first aid course to be prepared for emergencies.

First Aid

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