School Nurse Emergency Highlight - Burn

School Nurse Emergency Highlight - Burn

A burn is tissue damage caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight or nuclear radiation. The most common burns are those caused by scalds, building fires and flammable liquids, and gases. First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin.

Student First Aid - School Nurse Emergency Highlight - Burn


  1. Keep student’s burn under cool running water for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Apply burn gel and cover loosely with cling wrap or sterile, non-adherent dressing and loose bandage to secure.
  3. Call 000 if burn blisters, affects more than one area of student’s body, involves their mouth or throat or chemical splash in eye. Reassure while waiting for ambulance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why keep the student’s burn under cool running water for at least 20 minutes?  Cooling the burn reduces pain, swelling and risk of scarring. The faster and longer the burn is cooled, the less injury.

Why loosely cover the burn with cling wrap or clean plastic bag if it requires further medical care? This helps to prevent infection by keeping the burn area clean. It’s an ideal covering because it doesn’t stick to the burn and reduces pain by keeping air from the skin’s surface.

Should I put butter on the burn? No. Butter does not cool the area. All oils retain heat, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. If you put anything on top of the burn and it later needs to be removed at the hospital, it may cause further pain and damage.

Should I use ice to cool the burn? No. Ice may further damage the skin. If you don’t have any water, use cool, clean liquid or burn gel.

Should I put an adhesive bandage over the burn? No. Adhesive bandages will stick to the skin and cause further damage. Cover the burn with strips of cling wrap, clean plastic bag or burn gel.

Should I wrap the burn with cling wrap? No. Do not wrap the burn as you may cut off circulation.

If clothes are stuck to the burn, should I try to remove them? No. Removing anything stuck to the burn will cause more damage. Only remove clothing or jewelry near the burn.

How do I know when to call an ambulance? Call 000 if the burn blisters or involves the mouth or throat, or if a chemical splashes into a student’s eye.

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