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What should you do in the moments immediately following a burn injury?

What should you do in the moments immediately following a burn injury?

It’s Burn Awareness Week and Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston wants to remind you what to do should a burn injury occur.

In all cases of severe burns: call 911 immediately. When burns are really serious, you’ll want trained help quickly. However, there are ways to be proactive, limiting exposure and reducing injury, during the vital period when you are waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

If a flame burn occurs, “stop, drop and roll” to smother the flames. Burns caused by fire, hot liquids or chemicals can melt clothing into burned skin. If possible, remove all clothing and jewelry that has come in contact with the burned area immediately. If any clothing appears stuck, remove the surrounding cloth with a pair of scissors.

For thermal burns run cool (not cold) or lukewarm tap water over the affected area. If holding the burn under running water isn’t possible, you can also use a cool compress. If a small portion of the skin has been affected, you can immerse the burned area in still water. Do not immerse a large burn in cool water, as it could cause hypothermia.

Do not apply any ointments, creams or gels to the burned area unless instructed to do so. During this crucial time, it’s important to keep the burned area free from ointments that may interfere with the state of the wound or prevent a physician from getting a better look at the injury.

Cover the burn with a cool, moist and sterile, bandage or cloth. Wrap the bandage loosely so as not to place pressure on the skin. By covering with a bandage, you will prevent air from getting into the burn and protect the blistered skin from irritants. Elevate the burned part of the body so it’s above the heart if possible. This will help with circulation while you wait for emergency services to arrive.

Burns that are larger than three inches in diameter or wrap completely around an extremity should be seen immediately by a medical professional. Burns that occur on the hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks should be seen by a medical provider regardless of size.

If your child experiences a serious burn and is in need of further care, inquire about Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston where staff have contributed to significant advancements in burn care since the 1960s.

For information on how to avoid burn injury visit: or go to and search burn safety.