Winter burns advice
“Sadly, children are most susceptible due to their small size, as well as being less risk-aware so they might touch a wood-fire or tip a scalding drink."
St John Ambulance Western Australia has urged people to take steps to try to reduce the risk of burns injuries this winter.
Last winter, paramedics rushed more than 50 adults and children to Perth hospitals requiring emergency treatment for partial and full thickness burns, with nearly 20 cases involving young children.
St John Metro Ambulance General Manager James Sheriff said while burns and scalds are not as common as flu and respiratory illnesses in winter, their impact is often more traumatic and severe.
“Full thickness burns – what we used to refer to as third degree burns - can require prolonged hospital treatment and lengthy rehabilitation, with scarring that can last a lifetime,” Mr Sherriff said.
“Sadly, children are most susceptible due to their small size, as well as being less risk-aware so they might touch a wood-fire or tip a scalding drink. Touching candle flames and melted wax can also cause painful injuries.”
Mr Sheriff said in the event of a burns accident, first aid is critical in the immediate moments afterwards.
“No matter the size or severity of the burns injury, immediately place the affected area under cool running water for 20 minutes. If the burns are extensive, you could place the patient under a shower.
“It’s important to keep the burn under the running water for 20 minutes and if possible, remove any clothing or coverings from the wound. Don’t place ice or frozen packs on the affected area and don’t apply medical creams or bandages.”Mr Sherriff also said gas heaters and some log fires can be harmful if lit inside without adequate ventilation.
As cold, wet weather sets in, St John also anticipates winter colds, flus and other respiratory illnesses putting increased demand on the service.
“Last winter, paramedics attended 2,581 patients with respiratory illnesses compared to 1,733 in autumn, so you can see it increases very quickly.
“We would never discourage people from calling triple zero (000) if they’re struggling to breathe but we recommend people try to see their GP before their flu-like symptoms deteriorate,” Mr Sherriff said.
First aid for burns and scalds: http://stjohn.org.au/assets/uploads/fact%20sheets/english/FS_burns.pdf