In a medical emergency call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
The DRSABCD Action Plan is the first step when providing first aid. Use this to assess the immediate situation. DRSABCD Danger > Response > Send for help > Airway > Breathing > CPR > Defibrillation.
• Do not apply lotions, ointments, fat or ice to a burn.
• Do not touch the injured areas or burst any blisters.
• Do not remove anything sticking to the burn.
• If the burn is larger than a 20 cent piece, or deep, seek medical aid.
Signs and symptoms
SUPERFICIAL BURNS - The area is:
• Very painful
DEEP BURNS - The area is:
• Mottled red and white
• Dark red or pale yellow
FULL THICKNESS BURNS - The area:
• Is white or charred
• Feels dry and leathery.
• Because the nerves are destroyed, the pain will not be as great as in a superficial burn.
What to do
If the patient’s clothing is on fire
1. Stop the patient from moving around.
2. Drop the patient to the ground and cover or wrap them in a blanket or similar, if available.
3. Roll the patient along the ground until the flames are extinguished.
4. Manage the burn.
For all other burns
1. Follow DRSABCD.
2. If the burn is severe or if it involves the airway, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
3. As soon as possible, hold the burnt area under cool running water for 20 minutes.
4. Remove any clothing and jewellery from the burnt area, unless they are stuck to the burn.
5. Cover the burn with a light, loose nonstick dressing, preferably clean, dry, non-fluffy material (eg plastic cling film).
6. Continue to check the patient for shock, and treat if necessary.
A ‘cold’ burn is actually tissue damage from extreme cold, and accordingly treatment is different from other burns. See the fact sheet on frostbite.
All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional. Our nurses are available 24/7 to help you find the care you need.
Information originally published by St John Ambulance Australia.