First Aid 101: Everything You Need to Know About Burns

Burns are terrible, even a minor scalding on your tongue from a hot coffee can hurt, and cause days of discomfort. Knowing how to react and treat burns how you reduce the damage, speed up healing, and, in some cases, save lives. If a burn is serious, always call for emergency services, and in some cases, see your doctor afterwards just in case there is internal damage you can’t see.

Getting Compensation

In the cases where the burn was caused by someone else, either directly with intent, or through negligence, you would be due compensation. Depending on the severity, you might be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant financially, as they have committed gross negligence. Any defendant that burned the victim intentionally will be faced with criminal action against them and have to pay punitive damages.

The amount of punitive damages you could receive depends on the details of the specific case. For instance, if you were burned because proper testing was not done on an object you used (say, for instance, the case with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7) you could be awarded a lot of money in punitive damages. With the case of a faulty product, however, you will probably join a class-action lawsuit, which is used when multiple individuals were affected by the same issue.

You are also due compensation for your pain. With burns, scars can be disfiguring, permanent, and incredibly debilitating. The amount of pain caused typically determines the amount a plaintiff can receive. For instance, burns on the face or hands will receive a higher compensation than one on the thigh. This is also true if the burns affected the way you work. For instance, a musician needs his hands – if the fire damaged nerve endings then it is unlikely the musician will be able to play again.

Then there are also worker’s compensation settlements, which are typically lower than if you were to go through a personal injury lawyer. For instance, even if you have suffered from a third-degree burn, but are not disabled, you could receive up to 10 times less than what you would otherwise.

When you have been burned either intentionally or through negligence, you are owed compensation. Visit to hire a talented lawyer that will work for you and get you the best recompense you can.

Preventing Burns

Preventing burns and your general safety should always be your priority. This can mean anything from making sure you wear sunscreen every day to always using thick, oven mitts when dealing with hot metals. Take time and care when you are around hot objects, live or dangerous electrical wires, or near any dangerous chemicals.

Types of Burns

1st Degree Burns

These are superficial burns and are the ones that you don’t typically need to worry about. They are what you get when you accidentally touch a pot full of boiling water for a second, or burns from the sun. The wound will be red, and it will sting, but there are typically not any blisters. They typically require 5 – 10 days to heal.

2nd Degree Burns

These burns damage the second layer of skin. These burns look white, pink, or red in color. They are more commonly identified by the blisters they cause. 2nd degree burns, while they are painful, cause minimal scarring and possible discoloration on the skin. Make sure that the wound is covered and sterile while it is healing. 

3rd Degree Burns

These burns affect the entire epidermis and dermis. They destroy the nerves, the sweat glands, hair follicles, and blood vessels. They are very dangerous. The wound will be charred with blackened skin that leave scars, and when the 3rd degree burn covers a large area of your body, skin grafting. They can be caused by fire, heat, boiling liquids, chemicals, and electricity.

Thermal Burns

These burns are caused by heat. They can be from fire, from boiling liquids, or even steam. As these burns are caused from an outside source, the long-term damage depends on the length of time the skin is exposed to the heat. A burn can be anywhere from a minor 1st degree burn to severe, life-threatening 3rd degree burns. Before you can treat these burns you must first remove the patient from the source. In many cases, pouring cool, but not cold, water gently over the burned area will help cool the wound and stop the heat from damaging more cells.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are both common and dangerous. Typically, they occur because of misused products and cause irritation and redness. In severe cases, as when your skin is exposed to extreme acids or bases, you will need hospitalization. Acids damage your skin by coagulating cells. Sulfuric acid, for instance, will melt skin and cause permanent disfiguration. Bases will liquefy skin. It’s so powerful that sodium hydroxide, an alkaline (base), is used to melt the flesh off bones.

When you have been burned by a chemical, the actions you should take are to call 911 immediately and flush it with a gentle stream of water until help comes. Take off any articles of clothing or jewelry while you are flushing the burn. Never try to neutralize the acid by yourself.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns are caused when electrical current passes through your body. You should always see a doctor after an electrical burn because these burns travel inside your body, meaning that the extent of the damage may not be shown externally on your skin. Turn off the electric source immediately and call emergency services. If the person is not breathing, perform CPR, and treat any burns as you would normally.

First Aid Treatment

For serious burns, which are large 2nd degree burns, or burns to sensitive areas like the hands or face, and all 3rd degree burns follow these first aid steps:

  1. Stop the cause of heat

Put out the fire, cut off the electricity, or otherwise. Before you can treat the patient, you need to stop the source.

  1. Call Emergency Services

Not only do you need emergency services, the call operator can also walk you through what to do next, if you don’t know, forget, or are panicking.

  1. Don’t remove burned clothing

Peeling away the clothing on a burn can rip the skin right off. Never remove it. Emergency services will deal with it once they arrive.

  1. Cover with clean cloths

Never put any ointments or anything other than water on a burn. Place clean, sterile bandages or cloths on the burns (being careful of any blisters). If hands or feet have been burned, separate them with sterile, dry bandages.

The Rehabilitation Process  

  1. Physical

With large, severe burns, skin grafting will be required. Physical rehabilitation after burns, however, goes so much further. Physical therapy begins as soon as possible. A patient is assessed by a team of experts so that scarring is reduced and mobility can return. They begin with limb positioning and exercises. At home, the therapy will continue with compression garments that are to be used with exercises. The point of physical therapy is to get your normal functions and day-to-day actions back.

One of the biggest dangers that burn victims need to worry about is the risk of infection. Skin is your first defense against infections, and when it is burned, it is open to bacteria. Use antibiotic ointments or anything else that your doctor prescribes. Infections kill, they also worsen wounds already there, and cause pain. Keep an eye on your wounds and keep them disinfected and sterilized during the healing process.

  1. Psychological

Whether you need psychological therapy or not depends on you as a person, and how you received your burns. Fire can cause PTSD, particularly in children. It is a mixture of the pain and being trapped inside a residential or commercial fire that can trigger survivors. There is also the added trauma of guilt and fear. People might also start taking risky, or debilitating actions that threaten their life, their social ties, or their work.

Having a strong support system and professional therapy can help when moving on from the emotional and psychological damage that the fire caused. It can also help patients cope with their new scars and disabilities when the burns were severe.


Burns are painful and disfiguring, and can cause severe trauma down the line. Being proactive with your safety is the first step. When accidents happen, as they do, knowing how to deal with burns immediately after they have happened and how to treat them is the only way to lessen the damage. If your burns are severe, and not your fault, then you are owed compensation for your pain, for loss of income, and for punitive damages. Don’t let someone get away with causing you lifelong scars. Burns are one of the worst ways you can be injured. They can cause loss of mobility, loss of senses, and can impact your life.


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