Electrical Burns

Typically, electrical burn injuries are more severe than is apparent from external appearance. Electrical burns are associated with high or low voltage. High current flow may be associated with an entry and exit wound but most of the damage is to the deep unseen tissues. Cardiac arrest may also result from current flow through the heart. Be sure to turn off the power before going near or touching the victim. Commence CPR if required. Cool burns. Call an ambulance.

Thermal Burns
Stop, drop cover and roll the victim to put out the flames. Smother the flames with a blanket, coat, or other appropriate item and force the casualty to lie on the ground or floor. Move away from the burn source. Assess airway and breathing. Cool burn with tap water for at least 20 minutes. Check for other injuries. Call an ambulance.

Scald burns
Immediately cool the area for at least 20 minutes. Keep the rest of the victim warm. Take care when removing hot, wet clothing across the casualty’s face or unburnt area. 
Inhalation Injury

Inhalation of flames or heated air can cause severe damage to the airways resulting in swelling and possible airway obstruction. Look for evidence of injury around face and nose - coughing or a hoarse voice may indicate exposure. Toxic chemicals can occur with plastic or chemical fires. Call an ambulance. Give frequent small sips of water. Some agents may produce delayed pulmonary inflammation which may develop up to 24 hours later.

Chemical Burns
Acids and alkalis react with body tissue and cause a burn. Alkali burns are more serious than acid burns as they penetrate more deeply. Do not attempt to neutralise either acid or alkali burns, because this will increase heat generation and may cause even more damage. Flood the area with copious amounts of water, preferably with a shower or hose. Avoid contact of the chemical.

Radiation Burns
May be caused by sunburn, welder’s arc, lasers, industrial microwave equipment, and nuclear radiation. Cool any locally burnt areas with water for up to 20 minutes.

Bitumen Burns
Bitumen should not be removed from the victim’s skin unless it is obstructing the airway, because it may cause more damage. Irrigate for 30 minutes.

There are two layers of the skin. When the skin is burnt, the extent of damage depends on a number of factors. Burns can be caused by hot water or oil, fire, electricity and direct contact with heat, chemicals, electricity, radiation or frozen surfaces. Once the skin is burnt, further damage to the skin and tissue will occur unless immediate first aid treatment is commenced. 

1 Provide safety
Commence the basic first aid protocol, ensuring safety for both the casualty and rescuers. Don’t enter a burning or toxic atmosphere, call the appropriate authority. Call an ambulance if required. 

2 Look for

  • Pain around the burnt area
  • Localised blistering to the skin
  • Red to black marks around the area burnt.

3 First aid – general principles:

  • The aim for treatment of burns should be to stop the burning process, cool the burn and cover the burn.
  • Water is the treatment for all burns, lots of it, for at least 20 minutes. Do not use ice or ice water to cool the burn as further tissue damage may result.
  • Cool bitumen burns with water for 30 minutes.
  • Remove all rings and tight clothing before swelling occurs.
  • Cut off contaminated clothing. Do not remove clothing contaminated by chemicals over the head or face, cut them off.
  • Do not peel off clothing which has stuck to burnt area.
  • Do not break blisters or apply lotions, ointments, creams or powders.
  • Elevate the injured part to reduce swelling (if associated injuries permit).
  • Cover the burnt area with a loose and light non-stick dressing, preferably a sterile or clean, dry and lint-free material, e.g., plastic cling-wrap, handkerchief, sheet or pillowcase.
  • An emergency silver blanket could be used to help prevent shoc