While many of us assume that burns occur mainly in fires, this is not the case. Burns from hot water and from chemicals are also very common in Florida and across the country. Chemical burns, especially, can occur in car accidents, construction accidents, and in other situations where a corrosive chemical touches the skin.
If you or someone you know suffer a chemical burn, administer first aid by following these steps:
1) Call 911 or seek medical assistance at once if the burn is severe or if you are unsure about what the chemical involved is. Call the local poison control center if you know what the substance is and ask for specific first aid advice.
2) If the chemical is lime or a powdery substance, brush it off skin first. Remove the chemical by rinsing the affected area in cool, running water for at least 15 minutes.
3) Remove any clothing items or accessories that have been affected by the chemical.
4) Wrap the affected area very loosely using a clean cloth or sterile gauze.
Minor chemical burns will often heal by themselves, but it is a good idea to seek medical help to be on the safe side. Medical supervision is important in preventing infection and other complications. If you notice any of the following symptoms, the chemical burn is a medical emergency and should receive emergency medical assistance right away:
1) The injured party faints, breathes shallowly, or becomes very pale. These signs may indicate that the victim is in shock and requires help right away.
2) The burn injury is second degree or worse. If the chemicals have eroded the first layer or skin or if the burn area is larger than 2 or 3 inches across, the injured party needs to see a doctor.
3) The chemical burn has affected a sensitive part of the body, such as a major joint, eye, face, genitals, buttocks, hands, feet, or an already-injured area.
If you seek medical treatment for your burn injury, bring a container of the chemical in question or bring a label or description of the chemical. Your physician will be better able to treat you if he or she knows what the substance in question is.