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General Burn First Aid Information

Image of burned skin on arm being rinsed with cold water

  • Burns can result from heat (thermal burn), electricity, or exposure to chemicals.
  • The majority of burns should be seen by a doctor. Some first-degree burns, such as mild sun burn, can be treated without doctor care.
  • Never apply home remedies such as butter or baking soda to a burn. Many ointments and home remedies applied topically actually trap the heat, causing further damage to the burned area and can lead to infection.
  • First Aid treatment for burns should focus on keeping the burned area clean, preventing and/or treatment for shock, and pain control.
  • Severe burns (second and third degree burns) often lead to shock. Shock is a life-threatening condition and should be addressed immediately. Call 9-1-1 if you suspect the casualty is experiencing shock.
    1. Symptoms of shock include cold, clammy skin, pale or grey skin color, nausea, vomiting, and/or shallow, rapid breathing.

Content excerpted from the Urgent First Aid Guide used by permission Copyright 2013
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