What To Do If A Baby Or Child Has A Burn – Explained By The British Red Cross

British Red Cross

Did you know that around 123 children are accidentally burned each week?
As babies and children grow and explore their surroundings, food or hot drinks can very easily become the culprits for burns. And as young children in particular have more sensitive skin, cooling the burn quickly under cold, running water is essential to help reduce pain and scarring.

Would you feel confident helping your baby or child in a first aid emergency? If not, don’t worry: British Red Cross will be at The Baby Show at the NEC offering free, half-hour first aid taster sessions showing new and expectant parents how to treat burns, as well as a range of other common first aid scenarios.

Vikki’s story
Vikki Stow, from Chorley, was horrified when her daughter Tamzin was scalded. The toddler knocked a hot drink on her arm.
Luckily, Vikki’s husband knew that burns need to be cooled quickly with cold running water.
Vikki said:
“It was early in the morning when my husband made me a cup of tea. He put it on the arm of a chair to cool whilst I was getting ready. We didn’t realise our newly mobile daughter had spotted the steaming cup.  I must have had my eyes off her for less than 10 seconds when I heard an awful cry. I never want to hear that sound again. It was clear she was in a lot of pain. I quickly turned around to see her dropping the cup. Her arm was steaming. She had poured the whole freshly boiled cup of tea over herself.
Instinct kicked in. I didn’t even think. I just shouted for my husband. I quickly whipped off her long-sleeved top because I could see it wasn’t sticking to her skin. Her arm was turning pink. It gave me a stomach-churning feeling that I will never forget. Luckily my husband had recently done a first aid course and knew what to do.He was already running the cold water as I carried my distressed daughter through to the kitchen.
He used cold water to cool the burn on her arm and chest. I could see her skin peeling off and the whole of her left arm was bleeding. I fumbled for my phone to call 999. I don't remember much of what they said, other than we had done the right thing to put the burn under cold running water. They told us to carry on until the ambulance arrived. It seemed like a lifetime but when I checked later that day I realised it took just four minutes for the ambulance to get there. And oh my, how relieved I was to see them!
They told us we had done the right thing for Tamzin and most likely saved her from even worse burns. We learnt that the quicker the skin is cooled the better. When we got to hospital they wrapped Tamzin’s arm in cling film. They said it would stop the air getting to the burned area, which is what causes the pain. “She still has a few little red marks on her arm but they should fade with time. She's a very brave little girl.”

How to treat a burn:

  • Cool the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes.
  • ​After the burn has been cooled, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag.
  • Call 999 if necessary, and always seek medical advice if a baby or child has been burned.  

Book a first aid course The British Red Cross First aid for baby and child course is available from £45 per person at venues around the UK. Visit http://www.redcrossfirstaidtraining.co.uk/Courses/First-aid-public-cours... for details.