Despite the best safety efforts on Bonfire Night, accidents still happen, and knowing what to do in an emergency is essential; even life saving.
With the number of ambulance call outs for burns increasing threefold on Bonfire Night, Scotland’s dedicated first aid charity, St Andrew’s First Aid, is offering tips on what to do when things go wrong.
For many families, Bonfire Night is great fun, so long as safety procedures are followed and fireworks are used sensibly. However, if someone does accidentally hurt themselves, knowing how to treat the injury, however minor, is a vital first step in dealing with the problem. Burns in particular require swift action, as the longer the affected area goes untreated, the more damage is caused.
St Andrew’s First Aid training manager, Jim Dorman, provides his Bonfire Night top tips for families holding a Bonfire Night party: “Most importantly, check your first aid kit is well stocked and to hand and that you have a bucket of water near to the site of the fireworks.
“Should the worst happen, burns should be held under cool running water for at least twenty minutes. Do not use ice or iced water, as this will cause more damage to the skin and restrict blood flow to the area, which impedes the body's natural healing responses. Serious burns should then be covered with a sterile dressing or clean, non-fluffy material such as a plastic bag before seeking treatment.
“If the burn is larger than the palm of the casualty’s hand, it will require medical attention. Special care should be taken if the burn is on a young child or an elderly person. All deep burns of any size will require urgent hospital treatment.
“Most importantly, burns should never be treated with lotions, ointments or creams and certainly not butter!”
Founded in 1882, St Andrew’s First Aid has been Scotland’s preferred first aid provider for over a century and trains over 20,000 people each year. Tips on first aid are available at firstaid.org.uk
More Advice on First Aid for Burns:
A severe burn is deep and doesn’t hurt as much as a minor one due to damaged nerve endings.
• Start cooling the burn immediately under running water for at least 10-20 minutes. Use a shower or hose if the burns are large. Keep cooling the burn while waiting for professional help to arrive
• Instruct a helper to dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance
• Make the casualty as comfortable as possible, ideally lie them down
• Continue to pour copious amounts of cold water over the burn until the pain is relieved. If the burn covers a large area of the body, watch that you don’t induce hypothermia
• Whilst cooling, remove any constricting items such as jewellery or clothing from the affected area unless they are stuck to the burn. Wear disposable gloves if you have them
• Cover the burn with a sterile dressing or clean, non-fluffy material to protect from infection. Kitchen film or a clean plastic bag make good alternative dressings
• Treat for shock – lie the person down and keep them warm, loosening any tight clothing. Do not give food or water or allow them to smoke
For ALL burns DO NOT
• Use lotions, ointments, creams or butter
• Use adhesive dressings
• Break blisters
If clothing is on fire: Remember these four key things: stop, drop, wrap and roll.
• Stop the casualty panicking or running – any movement or breeze will fan the flames
• Drop the casualty to the ground and wrap them in a blanket, coat, or rug. Ensure they are made from inflammable fabrics such as wool
• Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.
If clothing has caught on fire it is more than likely that the burn will be severe.