WHAT TO DO FOR A VICTIM OF BURNS

Burns rank high among the injuries which uninformed sympathizers often make worse rather than better in their attempts to provide first aid. It might surprise you to know that most of the usual remedies for burns or scalds which have been passed down in most Nigerian cultures do more harm than good. Therefore, putting together information from the World Health Organization’s public website as well as from Mayo Clinic, the popular WebMD and the UK’s National health service, we present below home remedies that have been scientifically proven to be helpful and safe for victims of burns, be it due to fire, hot liquid, chemical spill, lightening or electricity. Let’s dive in.

When to call/visit the hospital or emergency response service immediately:
The burn is deep.
The burn affects a large area. About 8 centimeters (3 inches) or larger than the size of the person’s hand.
Made the skin appeared leathery or charred or caused patches of white, brown, or black skin.
The burnt area is a significant portion of the face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks, a major joint, or it encircles an arm or leg.
The burnt area becomes swollen quickly.
The affected person is an infant (<1yr) or an elderly person (>65yrs).
What you can do while you wait:
Eliminate the source; safely: Put out the fire (appropriately: you can learn safe ways to do this from HEI or the Federal Fire Service). Turn off the electrical power source (using a wooden stick/ or other material that does not conduct electricity). Irrigate the burning area (Use only clean water, if running water is available, keep it running for up to 20 minutes. Avoid cold water or ice as it may worsen the injury). “Stop, drop and roll” is a phrase to keep in mind. It helps to smother the flames.
Remove tight or constricting clothing and jewelry: Burnt areas often swell quickly. Removing constricting clothing can help prevent the swelling from causing damage due to isolation in a small body part. If anything is already tightly stuck to the skin, leave it alone till trained emergency responders arrive.
Keep the victim warm: A burn victim is at risk of dangerously low body temperature especially if a large area of burnt surface is being cooled with running water.
For facial burns: victim should be seated upright as much as possible except if this interferes with their breathing.
Rescuer CPR: if the victim is not breathing or not responding, commence CPR if you know how to.
Elevate: raise the wound above the heart level if this is safe

What NOT to do
Do not start first aid without ensuring your own safety first. (World Health Organization, 2018)
Avoid applying ointments, pastes, raw eggs etc. Petrolatum based ointments can be used 2-3 times daily but only for minor burns treated at home.
Do not open blisters. For major burns, leave that to trained medical professionals. For small burns at home, delay until you have topical antibiotic creams ready for application. Use creams recommended by your local pharmacist.
References
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1998-2022. Burns: First aid. [Online]
Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-burns/basics/art-20056649
[Accessed 28 March 2022].
National Health Service, 2022. Burns and Scalds. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/burns-and-scalds/treatment/#:~:text=Cool%20the%20burn%20with%20cool,them%20on%20the%20injured%20area.
[Accessed 28 March 2022].
WebMD LLC, 2022. Thermal Burns Treatment. [Online]
Available at: https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/thermal-heat-or-fire-burns-treatment
[Accessed 28 March 2022].
World Health Organization, 2018. Burns. [Online]
Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/burns
[Accessed 28 March 2022].

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Health Emergency Initiative

Health Emergency Initiative

A non-profit organisation that provides life saving medical interventions through finaical assistance to indigent patients in public hospital