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Arizona Burn Center

Patient Education

The tips contained in these pages are for educational purposes only.


First Aid Response
What you do for a burn in the first few minutes after it occurs can make a difference in the severity of the injury!

  1. Stop the burning process. Remove the source of heat. If clothing catches fire, STOP, DROP AND ROLL to smother out the flames.
  2. Remove all burned clothes. Clothing may retain heat and cause a deeper injury. If clothing adheres to the skin, cut or tear around adherent area to preserve good skin tissue.
  3. Pour cool water over areas burned. Keep pouring the cool water for at least 3-5 minutes (30-40 minutes for chemical injury). DO NOT PACK THE BURNED AREAS IN ICE! This may increase the extent of injury and cause hypothermia.
  4. Remove all jewelry, belts, tight clothing etc. from over the burned areas and from around the victim’s neck. Swelling of burned areas occurs immediately.
  5. Do not apply ointments or butter to wounds. These may cause infection due to their oil base and convert wounds to deeper injury.
  6. Cover burns with a clean dry dressing, bandage or sheet.
  7. Keep victim warm.
  8. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Stop, Drop and Roll
If your clothes catch on fire…

Stop – Do NOT run away when clothing is on fire. Running will fan the flames.
Drop – Drop to the ground covering your eyes and nose with your hands.
Roll – Roll backwards and forwards like a rolling ball. This will help put out any clothing that is on fire.

Make sure your children know the rules of clothing fire – stop, drop and roll.

Hot Water
In the average household, the hot water heater is set at medium, or 140 degrees. A severe water burn can result in scarring, disability or even death.
Turn your water heater down – aim to keep the temperature between 120 and 130 degrees.

Guard Your Child Against Burns
Hot Liquids: Children are burned by spilled coffee, tea, soup, grease and in sinks, showers and bathtubs. Water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is far below boiling, will badly burn a child in two seconds.

  • Set water heater temperature below 130 degrees
  • Test bath water with elbow, not with hand
  • Never leave children alone in tub, shower or sink
  • Don’t bathe child under running water – water temperature can change
  • Keep handles on cooking pots turned in
  • Keep cups and bowls with hot contents out of reach
  • Don’t hold or pass hot liquids over children
  • Keep radiator valves secured-steam can scald also

Hot Surfaces: Children are burned by hot pipes, radiators, floor heaters, stoves, irons, curling irons and hot plates. It’s common for children to pull electrical cords causing hot things to fall on them.

  • Never place cribs and beds near radiators
  • Always keep oven door closed
  • Iron on counter or ironing board, not on bed or floor
  • Iron when children are asleep- it’s much safer
  • Never leave iron unattended

Kerosene and electrical heaters:

  • Never leave children alone in a room
  • Keep safety barriers around heaters
  • Better yet, avoid use altogether

Irons, hot pipes, curling irons, hair dryers:

  • Keep out of reach
  • Supervise children at all times
  • Keep cords out of way
  • Cool and store in a safe place

First Degree Burns
A first-degree burn is like a sunburn. It hurts and turns the skin a different color. After a few days, it heals.

Superficial and Mid-dermal, Partial Thickness Burns
As these wounds progress, they form blisters. If these blisters pop, wet body fluid leaks out. After that happens, it is very important to put some fluid back into the body. This can be done by drinking a lot of juices (if your stomach is not sick). Sometimes this fluid is put into your body using an I.V. Some second-degree burns heal over the timespan of two weeks. Mid-dermal burns are deeper into the skin and sometimes cannot heal well without an operation and skin grafting.

Full Thickness Burns
Full Thickness burns are very deep into the skin causing the skin to feel dry and hard. These burns don’t have much feeling because the nerves are damaged and will not heal without an operation.

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