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First Aid for Burns

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Whether you are at work, at home or strolling around town, it is important to be prepared and educated for dangers and scenarios that may occur. While you may prepare and avoid danger in your personal lifestyle, it is impossible to prepare for the unpredictable situations throughout your day. While we take precautions, it is estimated that 40% of all burns occur at home. Up to 500,000 burn incidents occur per annum and of this quantity, 4000 perish due to their injuries as a result of burn incidents. Hospitals receive up to 40,000 burn victims per year. It is important to note that one may burn themselves from mere tap water at approximately 44 degrees Celsius. Careful application and monitoring is required when adults and children are within proximity of heaters, irons, boiling water, ovens or even hair dryers. One must not be careless when operating such machinery as it only takes a lapse of a few seconds to inflict burns on someone. To learn to recognize and manage patients with minor or severe burns it is important for candidates to learn basic hands on first aid and CPR training. Candidates have a variety of different first aid courses throughout Canada to choose from. Visit our first aid course locations page to find a first aid provider near you.

If someone does experience a burn, it is important to administer first aid immediately. You must first decide if it is serious or not by assessing certain criteria. If the person has difficulty breathing then you must call EMS immediately. Be sure to reassure them and try to keep them calm while you wait for professionals to aid the individual. If the burns cover more than one body part, again you must contact 9-1-1 as soon as possible. If the burn was due to electricity, chemicals or an explosion then contact EMS right away. While waiting for them, cool the infected area. When contacting EMS, if they ask, the number of palm areas is the percentage that the body was burned for example, one palm is approximately 1% so if it infected 5 hands worth on their torso then they have experienced 5 palm areas. It is advised to cool and cover the burned area in order to prevent the spread of infection. As the skin has burned off, the area is ‘raw’ and may succumb to airborne diseases that normally the epidermis would protect the body from. These airborne bacteria may not affect normal human skin but raw burnt skin may be severely infected from it.

For more serious burns that were caused by liquid chemicals or any chemical in the vicinity of the eyes, you must aid the injured party to flush the burned area with copious amounts of cool running water in order to numb the painful feeling. Be sure that the used water is drained away from the victim (not in a pool back to the individual) so that it will not contaminate them further (if it was a dangerous chemical). Be sure to calm the person during this process and continue to flush with water until EMS arrive. If it was a major chemical spill then you must remove contaminated clothes. If there is excess chemicals on their skin, brush it off and flush it with water.

Scenarios with electricity are more dangerous so proceed with extreme caution. Make sure the scene is safe before administering first aid. Check the area thoroughly and make sure the current was turned off by professionals before you approach the person. Tend to those with life threatening injuries first such as those with cardiac arrest, unconsciousness or respiratory issues. Be aware of burn sites (where electricity passed through the body) and give necessary care. Be sure to contact EMS and brief them of the situation properly as an electrical shock may give heart rhythms that are irregular.

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