Child Care: First Aid During Burn in Children

A common injury; there are 5 common types of burn injuries:

1. By hot liquids or gases (like steam): also called scald burns.

2. By hot solids: like burn by touching a hot iron.

3. Electrical burns: where a current passes through the body and cause burns at the site of entry and exit of current. Burns due to lightning can also be included under this category.

4. Chemical or caustic burns: By the falling of corrosive material on the skin.

5. Flame burns: where the clothing catches fire by a flame or the person suffers burns due to direct contact with a source of flame like gas stoves etc.


It is estimated that approximately 50% of patients dying due to burns do not die as a direct result of the burn injury but rather due to indirect effect, out of which the most common is inhalation injury to the lungs. The smoke and carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide emission from the fire suffocates the person, who dies as a result of lack of oxygen.

Given below are some practical tips when faced with a fire or a burn:

1. If the clothing catches fire, do not run, rather fall down on the ground and roll. The person giving first aid should immediately wrap such a person with a blanket so as to choke off the air supply to the flames, which thus gets extinguished.

2. If there is a fire indoors with lot of smoke, crawl beneath the smoke. The reason is simple. Smoke being lighter tends to rise up. Remember that nearly 50% of deaths are due to smoke inhalation rather than due to the direct effects of fire.

3. Smouldering clothes / clothes covered with hot liquids should be gently removed.

4. In hot tar burns, the tar should be removed by application of mineral oil or any hydrocarbon solvent, which dissolves the tar. An alternative method is to apply ice over the tar. It makes the tar hard and non-sticky, after which it can be easily peeled off the skin.

5. Jewellery, particularly rings, bracelets or any circular object encircling the body should be removed immediately, because post-burn, there is a lot of swelling. Therefore these objects may act as constricting bands and interfere with blood supply to that part of the body.

6. Cold compresses (and not ice) should be applied to the area of burn or alternatively the burnt area should be washed under free flowing tap water. Do not apply any ointments over the burns, but rather wrap the patient in a clean, dry sheet and take him to the hospital.

7. Any vesicle (i.e. the clear fluid filled swelling post burn) should never be pricked.

8. Electrical burns mainly due to an inquisitive child poking something in the electrical sockets are by and large not dangerous, contrary to popular belief. On the other hand, high tension wires (those running between electric poles) are dangerous. In case a person comes in contact with such a wire, the best way to dismantle his contacting body area is by a dry stick. Never try to catch hold of the child or the adult and yank him away. You will also get electrocuted with the same disastrous consequences as the original unfortunate victim.

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