First aid for firework-related burns


Last updated 29 June 2022

Keep your celebrations fun and stress-free with our British Red Cross first-aid tips on helping someone who has a burn 

Whether at a large display or a smaller gathering at home, many of us enjoy fireworks at this time of year. 

After all, it can be a lot of fun to dress up warm and take a moment to watch in wonder as displays light up the night sky with an almighty bang.

But there's a common risk that comes from celebrating with fireworks – burns.

Read on for our expert first aid tips on how to help someone with a burn, so that you have a safe and enjoyable celebration.


Using sparklers?

Sparklers are fun for all the family (although, don’t forget that children should be supervised with sparklers and children younger than five should never hold one by themselves).

Waving them around and hearing them crackle away is all good fun... until someone burns themselves.

We’ve all done it, picked up a used sparkler and realised that it's still scalding hot. Did you know that sparklers reach temperatures of over 2,000°C? That’s over 15 times the boiling point of water. Ouch!

There are lots of myths out there about how to deal with a burn, but running the burn under cold running water is still the best way.

Here’s how.


First aid for a burn

1. Cool the burn under cold running water for at least 20 minutes.
Cooling the burn will reduce pain, swelling and the risk of scarring. The sooner and longer a burn is cooled, the less the impact of the injury.

2. After the burn has been cooled, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag.
This helps prevent infection by keeping the area clean. Cling film or plastic bags provide an ideal covering because they don’t stick to the burn and reduce pain by keeping air from the skin’s surface.

3. Call 999 if necessary.
If you can't call 999, get someone else to do it. The burn may need urgent medical treatment. If you’re in any doubt, seek medical advice. Always seek medical advice for a baby or child who has been burned.

What if they are burnt through gloves?
If someone is burnt through gloves (or other clothing) don’t try to take off the glove if it is stuck to the burn. This could cause more damage.

Instead, cool the burn through the glove with cold running water for at least 20 minutes and seek urgent medical treatment. If the glove is not stuck to the burn, you can take it off.

I don’t have immediate access to running water. What should I do?
You can use any cold liquid like juice, beer or milk – the aim is to cool the area as quickly as possible using whatever cold liquid is available. Switch to cold running water as soon as you can.

Have a safe and happy night!