Safety Toolbox Talks


Treat Burns With A High Degree Of Seriousness

Burns are classified as first, second, or third degree. A first degree burn causes redness. Blistering is caused by a second degree burn. Charred, blackened or blanched skin are signs of a third degree burn. Furthermore, burns can be caused by heat (thermal burns) or by contact with chemicals.

Seek professional, medical treatment for:

  • All third degree burns
  • Second degree burns involving more than one fifth of the body or if the burn has affected the face, hands, feet, or genitalia.

First aid treatment for a burn involves relief of pain, infection prevention and treatment or prevention of shock. If a burn begins to blister, cool it by placing your hand or foot in cold, still (not running) water. You will need to use an ice pack on any other part of the body. Gently clean the burn and cover the area with a sterile, non-stick gauze. Change the dressing twice a day. Never puncture a blister. This just opens the door for infection. Never use butter, oils, or petroleum jelly on burns. If the burn is due to a chemical exposure, flush the burned area with running water for at least 15 minutes. While you flush, remove any contaminated clothing, especially clothing in the area of the burn. Check the first aid instructions for the chemical. These are found on the container and/or Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Treat as specified. Cover the burn with a clean dressing and call a doctor.

If a third degree burn is involved, get professional medical treatment quickly. Call an ambulance first. While awaiting professional help, make sure any fire is out and/or remove the victim from the burn source. DO NOT REMOVE ANY CLOTHING OR APPLY ANY DRESSINGS. Treat for shock and make sure the victim is still breathing.

Use common sense in all situations. Maintain a well stocked first aid kit and be familiar with first aid procedures. Being knowledgeable and prepared may be the smartest first step of all.

Third-Degree Burns Are Extremely Serious

If skin is white or charred and burned through:

  • Don’t try to treat or cool the burn or remove clothing that’s stuck to
  • Don’t try to treat or cool the burn or remove clothing that’s stuck to
  • Cover with clean cloth
  • Elevate burned limbs
  • Get immediate medical attentionv

Second-Degree Burns Need Careful Attention

If skin is red and blistered:

  • Remove clothing unless it’s stuck to the burn
  • Apply cool water or wrapped ice packs
  • Don’t break blisters
  • Get quick medical attention if the burn is large or on the face, hands, or genitals

First-Degree Burns Need Proper First Aid

If skin is red:

  • Apply cool water or wrapped ice
  • Cover with clean cloth or dressing
  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve pain

Chemical Burns Need Flushing

If the SDS says a chemical can burn:

Avoid Making A Burn Worse


  • Apply unwrapped ice, butter, petroleum jelly or
  • Cut away clothing that’s stuck


  • Check for shock and breathing problems and provide necessary first
  • Get medical attention if a burn isn’t healing well or causes ongoing pain.


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