November is the time of fireworks and bonfires. While they look spectacular, mismanaged fires or fireworks can lead to serious injuries for adults and children. When the unthinkable happens, it is important to act quickly and remove all the heat from a burn to minimise the damage. Consider a lovely cooked runny egg which is left, the heat will continue to cook and harden the yoke. We do not want our skin to continue cooking, so this month we take a look at the treatment of burns.
Fireworks are caused by a dry burn, by catching your arm in flame or holding a hot sparkler. Burns can also be caused by:
- Scalds from steam or hot liquids
- Electrical burns
- Chemical burns, for example cleaning products
- Radiation burns from the sun or ultra-violet light
Our skin is made up of different layers and depending on the extent of the burn will affect how deep into the layers the damage occurs.
- Superficial burns affect the outer layer of the skin. It will look red, swollen and feel tender.
- Partial-thickness burns affect the first two layers of skin. The skin will look blistered due to fluid released from the damaged tissues. It will be red and raw.
- Full-thickness burns damage all layers, potentially affecting nerves, blood vessels, fat tissues and muscles. Skin can look waxy, pale, and charred. It may not be painful masking the severity of the burn.
Action for Burns
- Cool the burn with cold water for 20 minutes or until the pain eases.
- Once the injury is cooled, cover it with strips of cling film. Do not wrap around the limb in case it swells.
If you do not have cling film with you, use a sterile dressing or triangular bandage applied loosely.
- 3. Seek hospital attention if:
- Casualty is a child
- Involves face, hands, feet or private areas
- Electrical or chemical burns
- Burnt all around the limb
- Is a full-thickness or a mixture of depths
- The casualty’s palm is smaller than all the blisters together or the redness is greater than 5 palms
NB. If a casualty is wearing jewellery in the burn area, ask them to remove it before the swelling starts and as long as it won't cause further damage.
Burns – DON’Ts
When treating, do NOT do any of the following:
- Use any lotions or creams
- Burst blisters
- Remove burnt stuck clothing
- Pull chemical-soaked clothing over the head