Types of Burns
There are seven common types of burns:
- Chemical burns, caused by contact with corrosive chemicals
- Contact burns, the result of touching hot objects
- Electrical burns, caused by contact with live electrical wires
- Flame burns, caused by direct contact with fire
- Radiation burns, caused by close exposure to fire or high heat
- Scalds, caused by hot liquids or steam
- Ultraviolet burns, caused by overexposure to the sun or to sun lamps
Degree of Burns
Burns are classified by the amount of damage done to the skin and other body tissue.
Symptoms: reddened skin; tender and sore
- Second-degree burns are serious injuries and require immediate first aid and professional medical treatment
Symptoms: blistered skin; very painful
- Third-degree burns are severe injuries and require immediate professional medical treatment
Symptoms: white, brown, or charred tissue, surrounded by blisters
First Aid for Burns
- Cool the burn: For all burns, cool the burned area, preferably with cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes. This lowers the skin temperature, which stops the burning process, numbs the pain, and prevents or reduces swelling. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention.
- Burned clothing: Lay the victim flat on his or her back. Burned clothing may be stuck to the victim’s skin. Unless the material is on fire or smoldering, do not attempt to remove it. Remove jewelry or tight-fitting clothing from around burned areas before swelling begins and, if possible, elevate the injured areas.
- Cover the Burn: After a first, second or third-degree burn has been cooled, apply a clean, dry dressing to the burned area.
- Don’t apply butter or any other grease (including medicated ointments) on a burn. Grease holds in heat, which could make the injury worse.
Don’t break blisters: This could allow germs to enter the wound.
- Treat for shock: To reduce the risk of shock, keep the victim’s body temperature normal. Cover unburned areas with a dry blanket.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
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