Download the PDF file: What to do if your clothes catch fire
Listen to the audio version: What to do if your clothes catch fire
A person’s clothes can catch on fire in a number of ways, usually by extended exposure to a heat source or by contact with a flame.
Prompt action will reduce the severity of any burn injury.
It is very important not to panic and run. Running fans the flames and increases the fire.
Heat rises so cover your face with your hands to protect the delicate eyes and skin on the face and to protect airways from the smoke.
Drop to the ground immediately.
Roll backwards and forwards on the flame to smother the fire. By rolling on the flames you starve them of oxygen and put out the fire.
A bystander can assist by dousing the fire with water, or using a fire blanket, non-flammable mat, blanket or article of clothing to assist in smothering the fire.
Note: A water fire extinguisher (all red body) is the only type of fire extinguisher which can be safely used in this situation. Do not use any other type of fire extinguisher.
Burns First Aid
Quickly remove any clothing and jewellery from the burned area. If the clothes are stuck to the skin, do not remove them.
Immediately treat the area with cool running water (e.g. from a cold tap) for 20 minutes. Only apply the water to the burned area. Keep the patient warm with a blanket or by holding the patient so that only the burned area is under the water and your body heat is keeping the rest of them warm.
After 20 minutes use cling wrap or a clean cloth to cover and protect the burnt area. Do not wrap the cling wrap tightly and do not use on faces. Use a wet cloth for face burns.
Do not use ice, creams, oil or other substances.
Seek medical attention for all children’s burns. For adults, seek medical attention if the burn is larger than a 50 cent coin, or if it is on the face, hands, feet, joints or groin area.