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Burns: Do You Know What To Do?

Nora Nugent, consultant plastic surgeon and burns lead (left) with members of the Queen Victoria Hospital burns unit who know first-hand the importance of the three C's of burns first aid.

On Burns Awareness Day (Oct 13) experts at East Grinstead's Queen Victoria Hospital have offered useful advice to anyone who needs to treat a burn.

Scarring from a serious burn is not just physical, but can be psychological too. It can have a long-lasting impact and can require multiple surgeries and a considerable amount of pain.

But burns injuries are potentially preventable if you treat them properly and remember the three Cs:

Cool. Call. Cover.

Cool the burn with running cold tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (unless it is melted or firmly stuck to the wound).

Call for help for any burn larger than a 50p coin: 999, 111 or local GP for advice.

Cover with cling film while transferring to a hospital/GP surgery. The hospital/GP should apply a sterile dressing. Cling film should not be left on a burn for more than a few hours and only until wounds are assessed by health professionals.

Figures from Queen Victoria Hospital's paediatric unit show that last year 48% of all referrals were scald injuries caused by tea and coffee.

Meanwhile almost 45% of referrals to its adult unit were scald injuries. These figures remain high year on year.

Nora Nugent, consultant plastic surgeon and burns lead at Queen Victoria Hospital, said:

"Whilst accidents can happen, knowing the basic burns first aid mantra of cool, call, cover can really make all the difference. In fact applying cool water up to three hours after the burn can significantly reduce the extent of the injury.

"It's important to remember the scars these injuries leave are psychological as well as physical and can present life-long challenges for the individual and also their family. So this burns awareness day please make sure you and your family know what to do because one day you could be the one providing that crucial immediate first aid."

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