Pouring cool water on a severe burn is still the best way to reduce skin damage and ease pain.

That’s the advice from the Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute which has launched a new campaign to educate people on first aid treatment for burns.

Alexandra Schultz reports.


After years of testing, the Centre of Children’s Burns and Trauma Research says running cold water on a burn for 20 minutes is the most effective first aid treatment.

Professor Roy Kimble, Royal Children’s Hospital: “First aid has got two components. One is to relieve pain which is very important, but more important is first aid can also reduce the depth of a burn.”

Professor Kimble says home remedies, such as aloe vera, tea tree oil and ice were all found to be ineffective.

Professor Roy Kimble, Royal Children’s Hospital: “People have all sorts of ideas of what might be good for a burn. Ice is a common one and we know that ice has no value with decreasing the depth of a burn.”

Of the 1500 burns in Queensland each year, only 12 per cent of victims had received the correct first aid treatment.

Here at the Royal Children’s Hospital 700 new children are admitted each year for burns, with this number steadily increasing.

The Bailey family has had first hand experience after ten-year-old David suffered extensive burns to his legs during a family camping trip.

David Bailey, Burns Victim: “This guy, he put too much diesel on the fire, it blew up and my shorts catched on fire.”

David’s speedy recovery has been put down to the constant flow of water which was poured over his burns immediately after the accident.

Kerrie-Anne Bailey, Mother: “I said to Stuart at one stage, ‘Why don’t we just put him in the car and drive him to hospital too?’, and a couple of parents have asked me why we didn’t do that – and my answer was there’s no taps in the car.”

The launch of the ‘Cool Burns for 20’ campaign comes as burns experts from Australia and New Zealand hold a conference this week in Brisbane.

Alexandra Schultz, QUT News.