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More than 3000 people attend Victorian Hospital Emergency Departments suffering burn related each year. 300 of those arrive at the Alfred Burns Unit...

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What is a Burns Unit? The Burns unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital is the designated paediatric burns unit for Victoria. More than 600 children present...

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Burns Alliance

The Royal Children’s Hospital Burns Department and the Safety Centre, together with representatives from the state’s fire services and the Alfred Hospital and The Royal Children’s Hospital Burns Units have...

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Burn treatments

The following is an outline of the path of how burns should be treated. (Information provided by the Royal Children’s Hospital)

Flame burns

  • Clothes should be extinguished by smothering, ie. a heavy woollen blanket. It should be remembered that flames travel upwards.
  • It is important not to beat at the flames as this will cause ‘fanning’ and the flames will continue.
  • Remove any part of the clothing which is not stuck and if you have suitable alternative coverings, ie clean plastic film, sheet, blanket, etc.
  • The child must be kept WARM.
  • Remove any jewellery. It may retain heat and act as a tourniquet.
  • If the fire is in an enclosed space move the child into an area of fresh air.
Do not apply any lotions or creams.

Scald burns

  • Douse the area with cold water IMMEDIATELY FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES.
  • Remove all items of clothing if possible as they can retain heat and increase the severity of the injury. Remember the nappy; hot liquid can accumulate there and remain hot.
  • If a large proportion of the body is burnt, immerse the patient in a tepid bath. Do NOT leave the patient unattended, or in the bath for more than a couple of minutes.
  • Cold compresses may be applied to superficial burns as this can help alleviate pain.
  • Wrap the burnt area in a clean sheet or piece of cloth. Do NOT apply any lotions or creams. Keep the patient warm.
  • Place cold water in clean ‘house hold spray bottle’ (like you would use for your plants) and spray on burn injury continually during transport.

Electrical burns

  • Remove the patient from danger.
  • Monitor the patient’s AIRWAY, BREATHING and CIRCULATION.
  • Look for both an entry and exit point.
  • Seek medical treatment. Patient should be placed on a cardiac monitor for 24 hours to detect any arrhythmia’s.
  • In electrical burns, large amounts of tissue, substructures and organs beneath the skin can be adversely affected. Voltage will also play a part in the severity of the burn.

Chemical burns

  • If taken internally, burns will be apparent on the lips and inside the mouth. Refer to specific instructions about management on container or call the Poisons Information Center on 9345 5678.
  • Closely monitor airway status.
  • If the burns are external, wash the area with cold water for at LEAST 10 - 30 MINUTES.
    This is done to dilute the effects of the chemical on the skin.
  • If the eye is affected, flush the eye continuously until medical review.
  • In the ambulance
  • Assess burn using the Lund and Browder chart if available.
  • Check for other injuries.
  • Keep patient warm.
  • Vital observations.
  • Administer analgesia.
  • Sit facial/inhalation burn patients upright if possible.
  • Commence IV fluids if burn greater than 10%.
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