Pediatric Emergency: Burns - First Aid

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Pediatric Emergency: Burns - First Aid
Pediatric Emergency: Burns - First Aid
Video: Pediatric Emergency: Burns - First Aid
Video: Paediatric Burn's - Paediatric Emergencies 2020 2023, February

Emergency in children: burns and scalds

Burns and scalds are among the most common accidents in childhood. The possible dangers in the household are often underestimated; a cup of hot tea can be a great danger for a toddler and burn up to 30 percent of the skin. Small children and infants are already at risk of death from an expansion of approx. Ten percent.

In the case of large, deep burns or if the face is affected, you should dial the emergency number 144 at an early stage. But even small burns and scalds should always be examined by a doctor in childhood.


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  • Things to know about burns and scalds in children

A combustion caused by dry heat such as fire, electricity or hot objects. A scald caused by hot liquids (for example vapors). The effects on the skin are very similar. The course of heat accidents differs according to age group: children under five years of age are mostly affected by scalds, while burns are more common in children over five years of age and adolescents.

How does a burn or scald manifest itself?

The symptoms depend on the duration and intensity of the heat exposure. Signs of a burn or scald are:

  • Reddened, peeling skin,
  • Blow,
  • Swelling as well
  • white or charred, black skin.

Light burns can be very painful. In severe burns, the pain sensation is disturbed due to the destroyed nerve endings, and the patient usually feels little or no pain.

Burns are assessed according to extent and depth and divided into four grades, more on the topic: Injuries & Burns

What complications can arise?

A burn can - depending on its depth and extent - trigger not only local reactions but also reactions affecting the whole body. A burn can lead to circulatory shock and a general inflammatory reaction of the body (burn disease). In the worst case, this is accompanied by a loss of function of organs that were initially completely uninvolved (e.g. acute kidney failure).

The risk of such a shock reaction in children already exists from five percent burned body surface. The so-called palm rule can be used as a rule of thumb for a quick assessment of the burned body surface: the child's palm corresponds to one percent of its body surface.

Wallace's rule of nine is used for exact determination, more information under burns or scalds

How can I provide first aid?

In general: burns and scalds in small children or infants should always be examined by a doctor, even if they are small or appear superficial. The overall extent of the injury often only becomes apparent after a few days.

Minor burns or scalds:

  • In the event of a scald: immediately remove clothes and other possibly hot objects (e.g. jewelry) from the affected skin area (always be careful with your own protection!
  • In the event of a burn: only remove clothing over the injury if it is not adhering to the skin!
  • Older children: Cool the affected part of the body under lukewarm water, but only for a maximum of ten minutes immediately after the injury has occurred! Stop the cooling early if the child becomes cold.
  • Danger! Under no circumstances should newborns and infants be cooled! There is a risk of life-threatening hypothermia. The same applies to older children if the injury affects more than 15 percent of the body surface.

  • Keep the wound clean and have it treated by a doctor.

Large burns or scalds:

  • Extinguish clothes fire immediately with water or smother the flames with a thick blanket.
  • Dial the emergency number 144.
  • Remove clothing immediately unless it is stuck to the skin.
  • If available, cover the wounds with a sterile burn cloth or a sterile wound pad and fix them with a loose bandage.
  • Do not use any “home remedies” such as powder, flour, oils, etc.!
  • Wrap the injured child in an aluminum blanket and wait for the rescue service. Possibly raise your legs.
  • Stay with the child until the ambulance arrives, calm them down and don't leave them alone.

The child loses consciousness or is unconscious:

Large or deep burns can lead to circulatory problems and even to cardiac arrest. Then quick action is required. Shout out loud for help and make those around you aware of the situation. Dial the emergency number 144.

Immediately check the child's awareness and breathing:

  • Control consciousness: Speak to the child out loud, eg “Wake up!” And touch the child lightly (eg on the inside of the upper arm).
  • Check breathing: Carefully overstretch the child's head, then hear, see, feel for a maximum of ten seconds. In the case of infants, the head is not overstretched, but only in the "sniffing position" (head only a little backwards, the nose should point slightly upwards):

    • If breathing is normal: Lay the child on their side in a stable position. Check the child's breathing regularly until the emergency services are on site. Don't leave it alone. Cover it up to avoid hypothermia.
    • If breathing is not normal: Start resuscitation immediately. Immediately ventilate: Lie the child flat on their back, carefully stretch their head back and ventilate them 5 times. If the child remains motionless, start with chest compressions: press 30 times at a frequency of 100 to 120 times per minute. Continue this cycle until the emergency services arrive.

More on the topic: 1x1 first aid for children

Things to know about burns and scalds in children

Nobody is protected from accidents. But most thermal accidents involving children could be avoided with good prevention. The following measures can help:

  • Do not eat or drink anything hot yourself while you have a child on your lap, in your arm, in a sling, etc.
  • be careful when heating food for your child: porridge from the microwave often only feels lukewarm, even though the contents are piping hot!
  • do not use tablecloths when there are small children in the household.
  • never place hot food or drinks on the edge of the table.
  • do not let the cables of kettles, coffee machines, etc. hang down.
  • install stove guards.
  • Turn the handles of pots and pans away from the front of the stove or, if you prefer, cook on the rear hotplates.
  • do not carry any vessels with hot liquids (soup pot, teapot, etc.) around when small children are frolicking in the apartment
  • the bath water should be a maximum of 37 degrees Celsius (check with a thermostat or bath thermometer!).
  • Never leave children unsupervised while bathing so that they cannot open the hot water tap.
  • do not put hot water bottles in bed for children.
  • do not use open flames in the presence of young children.
  • Do not leave fire utensils such as matches, lighters, gas lighters lying open.

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