A family of adults and children gather round a bonfire burning in a large metal fire pit.

© Graham Oliver

Enjoying some fireworks?

It’s a lot of fun when friends and family gather to ‘Ooo’ and ‘Ahh’ at the night sky. Firework after firework can light up the darkness with an almighty bang.

Whether you’re having your own party, attending a friend’s or off to a display, there’s a common risk that comes from celebrating with fireworks – burns.

But have no fear. We’ve got some top advice for helping someone with a burn.

Sparkler fun

A mother hugs and kisses her young daughter as both hold sparklers on Bonfire Night.

© praetorianphoto

Letting the children wave sparklers? They are loved by kids and adults alike. Watching the flames dance and hearing them crackle is all good fun. Unless…

Ouch! Someone’s burnt themselves. They picked up a used, but still hot, sparkler.

What should you do?

There are lots of myths out there about how to deal with a burn. You may have heard of using butter, spray-on cooling creams and even toothpaste. But these won’t cool a burn.

The best way to help someone with a burn is with cold running water.

Here’s how.

First aid for a burn

1. Cool the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes.

Cooling the burn will reduce pain, swelling and the risk of scarring. The faster and longer a burn is cooled, the less the impact of the injury.

2. After the burn has been cooled, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag.

This helps prevent infection by keeping the area clean. Cling film or plastic bags provide an ideal covering because they don’t stick to the burn and reduce pain by keeping air from the skin’s surface.

3. Call 999 if necessary.

The burn may need urgent medical treatment. Always seek medical advice for a baby or child that has been burned.

What if they are burnt through gloves?

If someone is burnt through gloves (or other clothing) don’t try to remove the glove if it is stuck to the burn. This could cause more damage.

Instead, cool the burn through the glove with cold running water for at least ten minutes and seek urgent medical treatment. If the glove is not stuck to the burn, you can remove it.

I don’t have access to running water. What should I do?

If you’re out watching a fireworks display, you may not be within reach of running water. If you don’t have water to cool the burn, you can use any cold liquid like juice, beer or milk – the aim is to cool the area as quickly as possible using whatever cold liquid is available. Switch to cold running water when you have access to it.

Enjoy a safe and happy Bonfire Night!

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