INTRODUCTION First aid with cool running water reduces the severity of burn. Low level of knowledge of first aid in burns was shown in previous studies with few patients receiving first aid by water lavage. A study investigating the use of water lavage as first aid in patients presenting to hospital with burn in Lagos, Nigeria was carried out. METHODS Patients admitted to a University Teaching Hospital for treatment of burns were recruited for this prospective study. Data detailing demographics, scene and aetiology of burns, material used for first aid, who administered first aid, level of education and relationship of first-aider with patients, length of hospital stay, complications and outcome of treatment were collected and statistical analysis performed. RESULTS 168 patients; 73 (43.4%) children and 95 (56.6%) adults were seen. Burns were sustained at home in 95 (74.2%) cases and outside in 33 (25.8%). Water lavage was used in 49 (29.2%) cases, raw eggs in 21 (12.5%), pap in 16 (9.5%) and other materials in 48.8%. 40 (23.8%) patients had not received any form of first aid at presentation. Patients that received no water first aid had higher complication rate (35.3% versus 18.4%) compared with those that had water first aid. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS The use of water first aid in burns was shown to reduce complication rate in this study. People should be educated on the efficacy of water first aid in pre-hospital care of burns.