Tuesday, September 27, 2022


What you need to know about first aid for burns

It can happen at the campfire, near the RV’s outdoor grill, or inside your rig with the microwave oven. It can happen as you relax on the beach or as you work on your truck. What is it? A burn. It’s important to know some basic first aid treatments for burns, especially when you’re camping.

Along with knowing what to do it’s also a good idea to carry basic burn treatment items inside your RV. These include:

  • aloe vera or antibiotic cream
  • gauze
  • adhesive tape
  • pain reliever

Note: The Mayo Clinic says, “If the burn covers more skin than the size of the palm of your hand it needs medical attention.” If in doubt, always seek a doctor’s help.

Most first-degree or minor burns are caused by heat, steam, fire, and sunlight. These minor burns can be treated at your campsite.

Here’s how to treat a burn:

  • Remove any jewelry, shoes, or clothing that may be difficult to remove should swelling occur. (Note: Do not remove clothing that sticks to the burn!)
  • Run cool (not cold) water over the burn for at least 20 minutes. This will stop the burning and help to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Gently dry the affected area, being careful not to tear or damage the burned skin.
  • Apply aloe vera or antibiotic cream to prevent infection.
  • Loosely apply a sterile, dry gauze to the burn and secure it with tape.

Note: We haven’t tried this burn treatment, but it’s the most highly rated burn gel on the market. Check it out – you might want to add it to your first aid kit.

First-degree or minor burns usually heal within a week. Do not pop any blisters that appear as the burn heals. This will open the wound to potential infection.

No one wants an unexpected burn injury to spoil a camping trip. Most burns can be avoided.

Here’s how to avoid burns outside:

  • Keep a bucket of water near your campfire. That way you can more quickly and easily douse the fire if the wind unexpectedly picks up or changes direction.
  • Never use an accelerant to start a campfire. Keep your fires small.
  • Closely monitor all outside fires, including the BBQ grill. It’s best to clear the area surrounding the fire source from sticks and rocks that could cause a person to trip and fall. Also, clear the area of leaves and/or other items that might accidentally ignite.
  • Any grilling/cooking utensils should feature long, insulated handles that keep hands well away from the heat source.
  • Closely monitor children. Teach them about fire safety (stop, drop, roll). Do not allow any horseplay near any kind of heat source or fire.
  • Keep pets a safe distance away from heat sources.
  • Always thoroughly douse your campfire, stir the coals, and douse again before going to bed or leaving the campfire site.

And here’s how to avoid burns inside:

  • Keep children and pets well away from the cooktop and oven when in use.
  • Reduce the chance of steam burns by covering food before placing it inside the microwave. When food is cooked, carefully remove the cover while wearing oven mitts, allowing the steam to safely escape. Always use microwave-safe plates and bowls.
  • Closely monitor children and pets when using a portable heater or the RV’s fireplace.
  • Test food and water temperatures before use.
  • Store lighters, matches, etc. out of children’s reach or in a locked area. Teach little ones that matches and lighters are not toys.
  • Extinguish all candles and cigarettes before leaving the room.
  • Keep fresh batteries in all smoke detectors and test them frequently.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher in the galley, the bedroom, and in your rig’s unlocked storage compartment.

Stay safe! Happy camping!



Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Plain yellow mustard for some reason helps on a burn. Something my stepmother showed me and it works.

Mike Albert
1 year ago

The application of any ointment or treatment SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED to any burn other than a minor burn without blistering, including sunburn before seeking medical advice or ER treatment.
Only cool, not cold water should be applied without force. Think water bottle opposed to hose.
If the burn has blistered severely or is oozing, call 911 or transport to the nearest medical facility for treatment.
If the burn has charred the skin or created open wounds, treat the burn victim for shock and cover with a clean sheet and then apply cool water AFTER calling 911.
Burns are typically rated as 1st (think minor sunburn with reddening skin); 2nd (blistering) and 3rd (caused from fire or chemicals, typically with charred skin). DO NOT remove any clothing from the burn area.
As for topical pain relief, after cool water for a 1st degree burn, it should be ok to apply ointments, but seek medical advice from your doctor.

Mike Albert
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Albert

To further explain the reasoning, anything you place on a burn must be removed at the hospital/ treatment facility before you treat the burn. This means painful debriding charred and/or damaged skin so healing process can begin. Seems innocent enough to try to help with topical agents but it does create severe pain to burnt skin. Again, this caveat is only for second and third degree burns, not minor burns. Also as previously stated, if the burn area is larger than the palm of THEIR hand, seek medical attention!

1 year ago

My Mother always had an aloe plant and she would cut off a piece of leaf to rub on a burn, or actually any skin injury, to relieve the pain. It really works. I dont have an aloe plant, but I try to keep some aloe gel in the refrigerator. It works, too, but not as well as Mom’s aloe plant. She also said to not try to juggle with burning charcoal briquettes.

Sally Weigand
1 year ago

I have used Activon brand medical manuka honey since 2019. The brand to which you have a link in this article is almost twice the price.

Sign up for the RVtravel Newsletter

Your information will *never* be shared or sold to a 3rd party.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Every Saturday and Sunday morning. Serving RVers for more than 20 years.