Burns first aid

You are your child’s best chance for burns first aid.

Knowing what to do if your child suffers a burn can mean the difference between lifelong scarring and a child who heals well.

The quicker you can get the burn under cool running water the better. But it will still make a massive difference up to 3 hours after the burn happens.


COOL the burn for 20 minutes under cool running water.

CALL for help for any burn bigger than a 50p coin: 999, NHS 111 / NHS Direct in Wales or your GP.

COVER the burn loosely with cling film or a clean, non-fluffy dressing or cloth.

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  • Remove any clothing or jewellery on or near the burnt area of skin, if you’re able to.
  • Loose, damaged skin may come away with the clothing.
  • With burns from hot fluids make sure you remove the nappy, socks and shoes as hot fluid can run down the body and cause worse burns.
  • Don’t pull at clothing if it is stuck to the burn or touch the burn itself.
  • The sooner you can provide burns first aid the better. But there is a magic three-hour window after the accident happens, when running cool water over the burn will help to reduce the likelihood of scarring.
  • Your instincts may be to dash to A&E. But remember, you may be sat waiting without running water. So the more you can do at home the better.
  • 20 minutes will feel like a very long time, particularly if your child is screaming in pain. But keeping the burn under cool running water will really help to minimise scarring.
  • It may be easier to cool the burn under a gently running shower or in the bath. Be careful not to let your child get too cold. Use cool water rather than cold. The water can be slightly warmed. Definitely don’t use ice.
  • If you’re with another adult, ask them to call for medical help while you give your child first aid.
  • Ring 999 if it’s an emergency and you need an ambulance. Or call the NHS for advice:
    • NHS 111 in England and Scotland
    • NHS Direct (0845 4647) in Wales

Visit NHS Choices for first aid advice for burns

More information on firework safety

Find out how to buy fireworks safely, read our top tips for a safe fireworks display and start teaching young children how to stay safe.

Hear what can go wrong and find out how to react if clothes catch fire.

Download and share a free firework safety leaflet.

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