OBJECTIVE: To determine the current level of knowledge of first aid for a burn injury and sources of this knowledge among the general population of New South Wales. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: People aged 16 years or older were interviewed as part of the 2007 NSW Population Health Survey, a continuous telephone survey of NSW residents. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Weighted proportion of the population with optimal first aid knowledge for burns. RESULTS: In total, 7320 respondents were asked questions related to burn injuries and first aid. Of the surveyed population, 82% reported that they would cool a burn with water, and 9% reported that they would cool the burn for the recommended 20 minutes. Few respondents reported that they would remove the patient's clothing and keep the injured person warm. The most common sources of first aid information were a first aid book (42%) and the internet (33%). Speaking a language other than English at home, and being over 65 years of age were associated with a lack of first aid knowledge. CONCLUSIONS: A minority of people living in NSW know the optimal time for cooling a burn injury and other appropriate first aid steps for burns. This study demonstrates a gap in the public's knowledge, especially among non-English speaking people and older people, and highlights the need for a clear, consistent first aid message.