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SECAmb offers advice ahead of National Burn Awareness Day

13 October 2017

Burn Awaness Day logoWith fireworks season just around the corner, South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is supporting National Burn Awareness Day on Wednesday 18 October.

The Trust is reminding people of the importance of administering the right first aid for burns and scalds. While most are usually minor, giving the right first aid quickly following a burn or a scald can significantly improve a person’s recovery time and limit the severity of any scarring.

With a more serious burn, which could require treatment from ambulance crews and further specialist treatment at hospital, it’s especially vital that first aid treatment is provided and instructions over the phone from ambulance staff followed.

While SECAmb is urging people to be especially careful this firework and bonfire season, burns happen all year round and across the South East, last year, (April 2016 – March 2017), close to 300 people were admitted to the region’s specialist burns unit at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. Annually, close to 1,700 patients are referred to the unit for specialist burns treatment and across A&E departments in England and Wales it’s estimated that some 300 people a day are seen with a burn.

Burn being treatedPeople can make a real difference to someone’s recovery from a burn by remembering to “Cool, Call and Cover”: A online video, produced by Queen Victoria Hospital can be viewed on Youtube via the following link -

• Cool the burn with running cold tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (unless it is melted or firmly struck to the wound)

• Call for help – you can call the NHS 111 service for initial advice on treating burns or call your local GP. In an emergency, call 999.

• Cover the burn with cling film or a sterile, non-fluffy dressing or cloth.  Make sure the patient is kept warm

Correct and early first aid is also vital in the treatment of chemical burns. In the event of a chemical burn, irrigation of the site of the injury should not be delayed. The length of time a chemical is in contact with skin or eyes is directly linked to the severity of the injuries suffered.

Follow the advice below to limit the severity of the injury.

• Prioritise eyes, face and hands in irrigation attempts (if contaminated in corrosive chemical). The subsequent quality of life and acuity of eye sight are closely linked to impairment and disfigurement to these key body areas.
• Do not rub eyes - as this may spread the chemical further
• If eyes are involved, encourage the casualty to open eyes and blink often whilst irrigating with running, clean water

Further information is available here:

It is thought that more than half of all children and adults with a burn injury do not immediately receive appropriate first aid at the scene.

SECAmb Consultant Paramedic Andy Collen said: “If the correct treatment is administered immediately after a burn, whether it is serious or not, the patient’s recovery will be improved and scarring will be reduced. While burns are often minor, people can get further advice from NHS 111 or, if it’s more serious, by calling 999. People must remember to ‘Cool, Call and Cover’ and we’d urge everyone to watch the Youtube film so they know exactly how to help themselves or others.”

Further information

• Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to burns and scalds. Around 42 per cent of those needing specialist burns care are children, with hot drinks the most common cause of scald injury in children, followed by contact with electric cookers, hair straighteners, irons and central heating radiators

• The elderly are most often burnt by contact with central heating radiators or baths that are too hot.  Adults are also at risk of burns from hot fat, barbecues and bonfires – never try to speed up your barbecue with petrol or other flammable accelerants.

• Kitchens are most common place for burns to happen

More information about treating burns and scalds is available on the NHS Choices website at

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