EMS Resources – Burn Treatment

The information contained in these pages is offered solely as basic first aid advise. It is certainly not intended to replace proper first aid training. Nor is it intended to be a replacement for seeking proper medical treatment

In the event of an emergency, dial 9-1-1

First Degree burns are the mildest, involving the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and producing redness, increased warmth, tenderness, and mild pain.

Second Degree burns extend through the outer skin (epidermis) and involve the under layer of skin (dermis). Second degree burns produce blisters and are characterized by severe pain.

Third Degree burns are full thickness, destroying both the epidermis and dermis. Pain is usually absent because nerve endings have been destroyed. Color may range from white and lifeless as from scalds and steam, to black and charred as from oil or gasoline fires.

The immediate care of burns involves the following:
1. Relieve Pain.
2. Prevent or treat Shock.
3. Prevent infection and further contamination.

The application of thick dressings will shut out the air and ease the pain. Dressings should be applied snugly but not so tight as to interfere with circulation. To prevent infection and further contamination of the burned surface, use only sterile dressings and burn sheets.


First Degree Burns:
1. Apply cold water applications, or submerge the burned area in cold water
2. Apply a dry dressing.

Second Degree Burns:
1. Immerse the burned part in cold water (not ice water) until pain subsides.
2. Blot dry, gently.
3. Apply dry, sterile gauze or clean cloth as a protective bandage.
4. Do not break blisters or remove tissue.
5. Do not use an antiseptic preparation, ointment, spray, or home remedy
on a severe burn.
6. If the arms or legs are affected, keep them elevated.
7. If warranted seek medical attention.

Third Degree Burns:
1. Do not remove adhered particles of clothing.
2. Cover burns with thick, sterile dressings or a freshly ironed or laundered sheet
3. If the hands are involved, keep them above the level of the victims heart.
4. Keep burned feet or legs elevated (victim should not be walking)
5. Have victims with face burns sit up and keep them under constant observation
for breathing difficulty. If respiration problems develop, an open airway must
be maintained.
6. Do not immerse an extensive burned area or apply ice water over it, because
cold may intensify the shock reaction. However, a cold pack may be applied to
to the face or to the hands or feet.
7. Arrange transportation to the hospital as quickly as possible.
8. Do not apply ointment, commercial preparations, grease, or other home remedy.
(Such substances may cause further complications and interfere with treatment).