CPR First Aid

Can Ice be Used as First Aid for Burns if There is No Water Nearby?

Can Ice be Used as First Aid for Burns if There is No Water Nearby

Burns may be some of the common injuries acquired by people in Perth, since common items may cause these. It may be appliances at home, chemicals used for work, and even the sun. Knowing the first aid for burns may be helpful so further complications may be prevented if it is acquired. It mainly includes using water to cool a burn. However, what if water is not available nearby? What if the only option you have is ice? Can you ice as first aid for burns? Let’s find out below.

First Aid for First-Degree Burns

Before we find out if ice can be used as first aid for burns, let’s see below first aid practices in treating first-degree burns:

  1. Use running water to cool the burn for at least 10 minutes.
  2. If there is tight clothing or accessories around the burned area, remove them.
  3. Use water to clean broken blisters, then apply an antibiotic treatment.
  4. Use lotion to prevent the burned area from drying.
  5. Apple bandage to the burned area.
  6. If necessary, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

As you can see, water is needed in many of the first aid steps above. However, water may not be available nearby in some circumstances. If so, can ice be used instead as first aid for burns?

First, let's review first-aid practices for treating first-degree burns.

Ice as First Aid for Burns

Unfortunately, many reliable sources say that ice cannot be used as first aid for burns because it can further damage the tissue. Explanations from a few of these websites are set out below.

Effects of Ice if Used as First Aid for Burns

Better Health mentioned that using ice or iced water may worsen the burn injury. Ice may also lead to the below harmful effects if used to treat burns.

Using ice or iced water can worsen burns, leading to harmful effects.


If ice is used as first aid for burns, it may lower the person’s body temperature at an abnormal rate, a condition called hypothermia, according to NSW Health. The same source said it may be life-threatening and may affect anyone in Perth. To identify if someone has hypothermia, his/her body temperature may be measured using a thermometer, a medical device recommended being added to first aid kits.

If the measurement shows a too low body temperature, a first aid response may then be done. It includes steps like performing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR is an emergency procedure that requires appropriate knowledge and skills to be performed. All of these may be learned from a first aid course in 123C Colin St West Perth 6005.

Ice Burn

Very Well Health stated that leaving an ice pack on an injury (like a burn) for too long or placing it directly on the skin may lead to an ice burn. When this occurs, the water in the cells of the skin freezes, forming ice-sharp crystals, which may potentially damage the structure of the skin cells.

As an effect, the blood vessels near the skin may start to constrict reducing the blood flow to the burned area, which may also result to further damage. Ice burn may occur more often in young children and the elderly as they have fragile skin. It may also be treated with the proper first aid management which is also part of a first aid course.


One of the possible effects of using ice as first aid for burns may also be frostbite. It occurs when both the skin and tissue that are underneath the skin freeze. When this happens, it may lead to permanent damage, one of which is amputation. It may affect anyone but certain groups of people in Perth may be at higher risk of having it like those over 75 years old, babies, and those who have diabetes. Proper first aid treatment for it is also covered in first aid training available in Perth.

Alternative First Aid for Burns

If running water is not available nearby and ice cannot be used as first aid for burns, the following alternative solutions may be done.

Clean Towel

Medical City HealthCare cites that using a clean towel to cover the burn may be done instead. The same source advised going to an emergency room next for a medical evaluation especially if there is no available first aider nearby.

Plastic Cling Wrap

Another alternative to water may be plastic cling wrap according to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. It may be used to keep the burned area clean by loosely wrapping it. Going next to a clinic or a hospital is also recommended wherein appropriate first aid treatment and/or medical assistance is available.


The Red Cross UK lists milk, soft drinks, and beer as an alternative first aid for burns if you have no access to running water. All of which may help cool the burn which is the purpose of using water in the first place.

First Aid for Second to Fourth Degree Burns

The above-mentioned first aid steps are only applicable for a first-degree burn. There are still higher levels of degrees that require the following first aid management:

  1. Try to take the person away from the source.
  2. Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the person is not breathing.
  3. If the person is wearing tight clothing and/or accessories on the burned area, remove them.
  4. Use a clean cloth to cover the burn.
  5. If possible, lift the burned area above the heart level.
  6. Monitor the person as he/she may experience signs of shock. If so, relay the information to the emergency response team once they arrive.

Since second to fourth-degree burns are more severe than first-degree, additional first aid responses must be done. These require additional knowledge and skills and may all be learned by enrolling in first aid training in Perth.

Identifying the Degree of a Burn

Knowing whether a burn is at first, second, third, or fourth degree may be important so appropriate burn first aid may be done as quickly as possible. It may be identified by how the burned area looks and the cause of the burn.

Identifying burn degree quickly helps apply correct first aid. Recognize by appearance and cause.

First-Degree Burn

A first-degree burn will look red and dry without blisters. However, the burned area may still be painful and may even look lighter or darker after the incident. It may be caused by the following:

  • Mild sunburn.
  • Contact with a hot stove.
  • Contact with a hot liquid.

Blisters are shaped like circles that may be filled with pus, blood, or serum (the watery part of your blood).

Second-Degree Burn

To this degree, blisters may be apparent and both the outer and inner layers of the skin will look red and blistered. The burned area may feel swollen and painful too after being exposed to:

  • Scalding with hot water.
  • Candle wax burn.
  • Burn from a household appliance.
  • Hot oil burns.

Knowing if the inner layer is affected may be done if deep redness is visible on the inner part of the skin.

Third-degree Burn

The burned area may look white, blackened, or charred at the third-degree burn which may be caused by:

  • Burn from flames of fire.
  • Contact with an electrical source.
  • Contact with a chemical source.

Charred is defined by Your Dictionary as “slightly burned, or turned into charcoal by burning”, which may be associated with a well-done hamburger.

Fourth-degree Burn

Aside from the skin, muscles and bones are also affected by the fourth-degree burn. Aside from being charred, the burned area may feel numb as nerve endings are also destroyed. It may be caused by:

  • Contact with a hot stove or oven.
  • Exposure to open flames like a fireplace and campfire.
  • Exposure to chemicals.
  • Injuries acquired from a building fire.

Since a hot stove and oven are common household items, a fourth-degree burn may also be acquired at home.


Ice cannot be used as first aid for burns if there is no water nearby. Using ice may only cause further damage to the tissue and lead to harmful effects. Using alternative solutions may be done instead which may be applied before going to a clinic or hospital for proper first aid treatment and medical care.



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