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How to Treat a Propane Burn

By Kent Page McGroarty ; Updated July 27, 2017

If you've ever used a barbecue grill, you are probably somewhat familiar with propane, a heavy flammable gaseous alkane found in natural gas and crude petroleum. It is used in clothes dryers, water heaters, patio heaters, fireplaces and furnaces in addition to gas grills. Burns are damage to skin tissue usually from excessive heat, although cold burns can also occur. Liquid propane can cause cold burns and inflict serious damage to the skin as it vaporizes instantly and causes extreme frostbite. There are several things you can do to ease the injury and pain of such a burn while waiting for medical assistance.

Move the victim to a warm area as soon as you can to allow the affected area to slowly warm up. Do not apply direct heat to the area, as it can cause further injury.

Gently cover or drape the affected area with a clean sheet or other type of dressing.

Fill a small basin or tub with neutral-temperature water that is neither hot nor cold. Immerse the affected area in the water to relieve some of the pain.

Encourage the injured person to slowly work/exercise the affected area. Have the victim drink warm, nonalcoholic liquids, and keep the person away from excess cold or heat such as snow, ice, hot or cold water and heat lamps.

Call for medical assistance as soon as possible.


Severe burns may require a skin graft.


Do not use ice to treat the burn. It prolongs the pain, slows the healing and causes more damage to skin tissue. Burn victims experiencing vision problems should contact their doctor.

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