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Communicating burning messages

Driving home form a meeting on Monday night, I heard a radio program about treating burns. The content was interesting enough but one comment in particular made by Lara Harvey (BSc, MPH, PhD Student) really stood out for me.

From a survey, they have determined that most people learn first aid (and specifically first aid for burns) from first aid manuals/books (43%) and the internet (33%). {I am in the minority to have done many courses apparently.}

However, if you do a burns treatment search, the answers are not consistent. That is most sites will tell you to treat a burn with water but they vary in how long you need to do so for. {Glad to say that I teach cubs the time experts want people to know!}

Lara asked (and I’m paraphrasing as I don’t recall her exact words) “How can we let people know something so important if there is an inconsistent message out there?”

I often write about the importance of consistency within a business or brand, but there is a broader issue of consistency within an industry or topic. It only takes one person to write the wrong fact for that message to get spread and potentially cause trouble – in this example, the trouble of not cooling a burn for long enough, but it could damage an industry’s reputation, give customers unrealistic expectations or have people using products inappropriately.

There are no rules for the internet – anyone can set up a website and put whatever content they like on there. If they make it look good and promote it well, they may just get it seen by many people and influence them even if they don’t have the appropriate knowledge to start with.

Likewise there are no updating rules – a knowledgable person could upload great information but maybe it is now out of date. How does the average internet viewer know the information has changed?

So do you have any suggestions as to how consistent messages can be reported on the net? 

How did you learn about treating burns and other first aid treatments? Do you think it was effective?

ADDED NOTE: The correct first aid for a burn is to put it under cold water for 20 minutes. Running water is best (although jumping in a pool or other big volume works well, too) but even a bucket of water is better than nothing. Ice and creams are not necessary and can make things worse. Severe, chemical and large burns need medical attention. Only remove clothing if it is not sticking to skin. Keep the patient warm and offer them water to drink.