Burns are injuries to the body's tissues caused by factors such as heat, excessive sun exposure, chemicals, or electricity, while scalds result from hot liquids or steam.

The severity of burns and scalds can vary widely, from minor injuries that are easily treated to severe emergencies that are life-threatening, depending on their depth and size.

Assessing severity

  • First-degree burns, or superficial burns, impact only the top layer of skin, causing redness, pain, and possibly blisters.

  • Second-degree burns, or partial thickness burns, affect both the outer and the underlying layer of skin, leading to a red and white mottled appearance, dark red or pale yellow skin, pain, and blisters.

  • Third-degree burns, or full thickness burns, extend through the skin to the fat layer beneath, resulting in a brown, black, or white appearance. These burns may feel dry and leathery, and because they can destroy nerve endings, the pain might not be felt.

What to do

If someone catches fire, immediately have them drop to the ground and roll, or smother the flames with a blanket to extinguish them.

In cases involving electricity, ensure the power is switched off to stop the electrical current.

For chemical burns, remove any clothing that has been contaminated and thoroughly rinse the affected skin with water for up to an hour. If the burn is caused by dry chemicals, first brush off the substances gently before rinsing the area with water.

As soon as possible, put the burnt area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes:

  • Don’t use ice (only apply water to the burnt area).
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burn unless they are stuck to the burn.
  • Don’t remove anything that is stuck to the burn.

It is a simple fact that a practical knowledge of first aid can save lives. Whether it’s a SETA accredited first aid course you need as required by your employer or studies, or you just want to be prepared for emergencies at home or play, St John is able to offer you an innovative training course ensuring you receive hands-on knowledge that will make a difference in an emergency.