What does SCALD stand for in first aid?

SCALD is an acronym used to recall the important steps when assessing the severity of a burn injury. Burns are common accidental injuries in the home. Effective first aid is vital to stop the burning process and reduce the risk of long term complications.

S.C.A.L.D helps first aiders and first responders assess a burn and decide whether the patient needs medical assessment. SCALD stands for:


Generally the larger the surface area or percentage of the burn, the more severe it is likely to be, however other elements of ‘S.C.A.L.D’ must also be considered.

Burn injury size can be estimated by using the palm of the victim’s hand. Generally, this equals approximately 1% of their body surface area.


Certain causes of burns may dictate severity. Consider chemical, electrical or radiation burns as these are more serious injuries.


Elderly patients or children and babies are more at risk of developing complications from burn injuries. Infection is a major risk following any burn injury, elderly patients and children are more prone to infection and may require specialist medical input.


Some areas of the body are more sensitive or susceptible to infection and complications. Areas around the face and groin may need further medical attention from burn specialists.


The depth of the burn is often the clearest indicator of severity: Superficial (1st degree), partial thickness (2nd degree) and full thickness (3rd degree).

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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