How to Tell the Seriousness of a Burn

Burns can occur almost anywhere, and can be caused by various things such as kitchen accidents, electrical shocks, etc. They can be very serious and even life threatening depending upon the degree of burns and the area covered by it. It is therefore important for us to have some basic knowledge about what to do in case we or someone we know gets burnt.

1. Here’s a thumb rule: 1 palm = 1% of your body surface area

2. Estimate how serious a burn is by looking at the burnt surface area:

• 5% is a serious burn for a child
• 10% is serious for an adult

3. When dealing with blisters, seek medical attention and remember:

• Superficial blister – Do not burst it
• Burst and charred blister – Second degree burn
• Charred but not painful blister – Very serious, most likely caused by electric shock


1. If clothing is on fire, remember: “stop, drop and roll.”

• Stop the activity that has resulted in the burn.
• Drop/pull the individual to the ground to stop fanning the flames.
• Wrap in a blanket and roll along the ground until flames are extinguished.

2. For minor burns, wash the affected area with clean water at room temperature, and cover with clean or sterile cloth.


1. Do not apply any lotions, ointment or fat/butter on minor or major burns. Instead, seek medical attention to determine treatment appropriate for the burn.

2. Never use icy or cold water on a burn, because even though it may relieve pain, the cold can actually cause additional damage to skin.

3. Do not touch injured areas or burst any blisters.

4. Do not remove anything (clothes, etc.) sticking to the burn.
This information has been provided by Healthspring Community Medical Centres.