Awareness and First Aid

The risk of injury from fire significantly increases in the cold winter weather.

Do you know what to do for a thermal burn?

A Medical Research Council report estimates that every year, approximately 1.6-million South Africans suffer burn injuries – and most of those victims are from poorer communities. This is because many people in low-income communities do not have electricity and have to rely on candles, lanterns and paraffin stoves for heat and light.

Gas heaters and open flames in small rooms are common causes of fires in informal settlements and fires can spread rapidly due to the flammable materials. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for emergency personnel to respond to fatal residential fires during winter. In many cases, ER24 paramedics treat people for smoke inhalation or severe burn injuries.



  • Remove burned clothing that is stuck to the body
  • Use very cold water or ice on a burn
  • Apply ointments, jellies, sprays of first-aid creams to severe burns
  • Burst blisters


  • Remove clothing and jewellery that has been burned
  • Run tap water or room temperature water over the burn
  • Apply a loose, clean, dry cloth or bandage to the burned area after it has cooled and seek medical care

For moderate to severe burns, you should immediately call ER24 on 084 124.