Don’t Feel the Burn: First Aid for Burns

Burns are a common workplace injury. The severity of a burn depends on how many layers of skin it affects. First-degree burns only affect the first layer of skin, which will turn red when it comes in contact with heat. Second-degree burns cause both reddened skin and some blistering. Third-degree burns look charred; you might even be able to see white tissue underneath the destroyed skin.

You can protect yourself and others from burn pain, and possibly serious infection, by knowing first aid for burns.

For first- and second-degree burns:
– Treat by putting the affected area under cold water for several minutes to cool the burn and relieve pain.
– After soaking, cover the burn with a clean, dry dressing, such as sterile gauze or a bandage, to prevent infection.
– Don’t use ice, lotion, or ointment on a burn.
– Don’t break blisters that form on a second-degree burn.
– See a doctor if the burn covers a large area or gets infected.

For third-degree burns:
– Call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
–  Lay the victim down and elevate severely burned limbs.
– Cut away clothing if necessary, but don’t try to remove clothing that is stuck to a burn.

For chemical burns:
– Call for emergency medical assistance if the burn covers a large area of the body or affects the eyes or face.
– Flush burned areas with water until emergency medical help arrives.
– Remove contaminated clothing, if possible.

For critical burns, get immediate medical attention. Critical burns include those that:
-Make it difficult for a victim to breathe.
-Cover a significant portion of the body.
-Involve the head, neck, hands, feet, or genitals.
-Are caused by chemicals, electricity, or explosions.
Learn how to recognize burn hazards, such as the following:
– Flammable liquids often have invisible vapors that move quickly through the air; put them together with an ignition source – even a spark – and you could have a fire.
– Smoking is a hazard because lit cigarettes or matches can be ignition sources for paper, flammable liquids, or almost anything capable of burning.
– Welding and cutting operations create flames and sparks, so they’re a potential cause of burns and of fires.
– Hot machines and processes are burn hazards.
– Space heaters can, if not used properly, cause fires and burns.
– Very hot water is a burn hazard.