Thermal Burns

Thermal burns can result from making contact with heated objects, such as boiling water, steam, fire, hot cooking items and other hot objects.

The same 4-step process for all burns remains with a few additional considerations for thermal burns.


STOP immediately  

DROP gently to the ground  

COVER your face with your hands  

ROLL over and over on your sides until the fire is out. This will smother the fire.  

*Remove yourself or others from danger if it can be done safely.


Cool for 20 minutes with cool running water. This can still be done up to 3 hours after injury.  

*Remove jewellery, rings, watches.


Cover the patient to keep them warm.  

Cover the burn using a dry dressing or clingwrap.  

*DO NOT wrap of fix any dressings to tightly.


Seek help. Minor burns can often be managed at home, however, more severe burns may require additional medical treatment. 

Call 000 or present to your nearest emergency department if the following applies:

  • Burns of special areas – face, hands, feet, genitalia, perineum, major Joints and circumferential limb or chest burns 
  • Burns with potential inhalation injury 
  • Electrical burns 
  • Chemical burns 
  • Burns with pre-existing illness 
  • Burns associated with other injuries 
  • Burns at the extremes of age – young children and the elderly. 
  • Burn injury in pregnant women 
  • Non-accidental burns 
  • If you are concerned  
  • Pain not managed with simple over the counter analgesia  
  • Available dressings unable to contain and cover injury

When to call a doctor?  

Most minor burns can be treated with first-aid, however, if the burn is severe you will need to seek medical help or call 000.  

If the burn is deep you may want to follow up with your GP to see if you need further care or an updated tetanus shot.