Safety and first aid

Burns first aid

Immediate first aid can make a difference to the burn victim’s treatment. First aid can be effective for up to 3 hours after the burn. Proper first aid can reduce the size and ultimate depth of the burn injury.

As with any first aid, it is important that you do not help unless you know it is safe. Be careful of any remaining burning material.

Stop the burning process

Cool the burn with cool running water for a minimum of 20 minutes. Do not use ice.

Remove clothing from around the burn

Cut around clothing if required, and remove jewellery if it is interfering with breathing or circulation. Do not try to remove clothing or anything else which is stuck to the burnt skin.

Keep the patient warm

Wrap the patient’s unburnt areas in a blanket or jacket to prevent heat loss.

Some people may go into shock. Stop cooling the burn if the person becomes very cold and shivers.

Get medical help

Always dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance in a medical emergency.

Get urgent medical help if:

  • the burn is deep, even if patient does not feel any pain
  • the burn is larger than a 20 cent piece
  • the burn involves airway, face, hands or genitals
  • you are not sure how severe the burn is.

Where to get help

  • For emergency or life-threatening conditions, visit an emergency department or dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance
  • See your doctor
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222


State Burns Service, Fiona Stanley Hospital

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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