With 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.
People 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 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zExT8eNLnR0
• 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
• 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.”
• 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
• 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
• Kitchens are most common place for burns to happen
More information about treating burns and scalds is available on
the NHS Choices website at