How to Handle Burns in an Emergency

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Roughly 1.1 million Americans face serious burns that require medical attention every year. Nearly 10,000 of those cases prove fatal. As if dealing with serious burns was not already bad enough, what would happen if this situation were to happen during an emergency? It may be a while before any medical assistance could provide you with the care that you need. Would you know the proper steps to provide your own personal care for the burns that would hold you over? Let’s talk about how to handle burns in an emergency. I stock this product: Burn Free

You may have been misinformed on remedies to use to manage serious burns, which could result in further skin damage. That’s why it’s so important for you to know what you should do and not do when dealing with serious burns. Here’s how to handle burns during an emergency.  Please keep in mind I am not a doctor or anyone in the medical field. Always consult your medical consultant for any information you need. I highly recommend getting this Medical Book or this Medical Book

How to Handle Burns in an Emergency

What Makes Our Skin so Important? 

Besides playing the crucial role of keeping everything within us intact, our skin has several other tasks that it’s responsible for. It helps us maintain proper body temperature and fluid regulation, along with preventing bacteria and viruses from easily getting inside our bodies. 

If our skin was to become severely damaged from a major burn, our body would have a much more difficult time performing those functions. A serious burn would not only cause a break in the skin, but we’d become more susceptible to infections and our bodies would also struggle to stay warm.  This is important to know so that you know how to handle burns in an emergency. 

Different Degrees of Burn Damage

The severity of a burn depends on the depth of damage caused to the layers of skin. Unfortunately, skin burns can mature over time and go from less severe and evolve into something far worse. Take your typical sunburn for example. At first, you may notice only slight discomfort the first day, but throughout the night blisters can begin to form, making your situation that much more intolerable. 

The same happens with burns that are at a much higher degree right from the beginning. You must know what type of burn that you are dealing with to treat it properly. The different degrees of burns can be classified as follows:

1st Degree Burns

First-degree burns are much milder in comparison to major burns, but are still something uncomfortable to deal with nonetheless. Your skin will appear dry and red, where damage is only caused to the top layer of skin, the epidermis. Blisters do not form with a 1st-degree burn, but you may notice a slight skin discoloration for some time.   

2nd Degree Burns

A 2nd-degree burn reaches through to the middle layers of skin, called the dermis. It appears red at first, followed up with blisters and swollen skin. Long term effects on the skin may include thickness and tightness in that region of scarring.    

3rd Degree Burns

With 3rd degree burns, you’ll notice that the skin appears white and charred, reaching throughout every layer of skin and fat. This type of burn can cause extensive long-term damage. 

4th Degree Burns   

This is the most severe type of burn that you can experience, where not only your layers of skin are destroyed, but the burn can cause plenty of damage to bones, tendons, and muscles. With a fourth-degree burn, you no longer have any feeling in that area because all your nerve endings have been destroyed. It’s also very likely that you will experience shock at this level. A fourth-degree burn shows signs of charred skin, and bones may even be exposed. It’s potentially life-threatening and could require amputation.     

Treating Minor Burns

The first thing that you need to do is clean the wound by using lukewarm water. Don’t make the mistake of flushing the wound with cold water. This can cause even further damage to the skin and may expose the skin to infection. Also, make sure that you remove any jewelry around the injury, including necklaces, rings, or bracelets. If the swelling and inflammation set in around those restrictive items, they may cut into the skin. 

Next, you’ll need to dress the wound with an antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin or Bacitracin. Silvadene is another topical ointment that is highly preferred and can be found over the counter.  

People have often used butter as a remedy in the past when dealing with burns. Don’t do this! Doing so can cause even more extensive damage to the skin.  

Treating Major Burns (2nd and 3rd Degree Burns) 

Major burns can be life-threatening and medical treatment in most cases is necessary. The victim should be moved to a safe place where they are no longer exposed to the threat of further burn damage and risking any additional injury. Be sure that you remove any burning material away from them and call 911 immediately. 

Don’t use cold running water on the burn or it may cause the victim to experience a drop in body temperature, which can lead to hypothermia. It’s best to keep the victim warm and in a still position until emergency help arrives. Wrap a clean sheet around the individual to help them maintain body heat and encourage them to lie still. Place a loose bandage or cloth over the burn in the meantime.       

There are also some things that you don’t want to do with a major burn. Never make the mistake of applying ice or topical ointments and creams directly to your skin. You also should not remove any clothing that may have become stuck to the skin. And never, never peel or pick at blisters and skin that has begun to unravel in the affected area.  

Treating 4th Degree Burns

Fourth-degree burns are not only life-threatening but the victim will also have to deal with permanent damage for the rest of their lives. That’s why these burns need to be taken very seriously. 

Severe burns, such as fourth-degree burns, may cause you not to feel pain due to the extensive nerve damage that may have taken place, but other organs and muscles may be affected besides merely the skin. Failing to get treated immediately can further increase the risk of other complications such as organ damage and loss of circulation.

If it’s possible, you need to raise the burned body part into a position above the heart. Flush the burned region with lukewarm water only if it’s a chemical burn that they are dealing with. Next, place a loose bandage over the wound and then lay a sheet or light blanket over them, especially if they appear to be cold.

Final Word

It can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get the medical treatment that you need following a disaster or major emergency. Yet, if you or someone you know is facing 3rd or 4th-degree burns during this time, it’s crucial that you get the help that is needed as quickly as possible. Especially if the victim is burned anywhere on the face, chest, hands, feet, or groin area.

These are regions on the body that are extremely sensitive and can result in further damage, or even death. How do you handle burns in an emergency? Please be prepared, we must. May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Horrible Burns on Hand Deposit photos_62957213_s-2019

23 thoughts on “How to Handle Burns in an Emergency

  • October 16, 2020 at 8:08 am
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    Hi Linda,
    Two points. All jewelry on any limb affected by a burn must be removed. Even if the burn is on the upper arm, the hand may swell enough to make removing rings and bracelets impossible.
    In the second paragraph on Treating Major Burns, a drop in body temperature leads to hypothermia, not hyperthermia.
    Good reminders for us all!
    Jennifer

    Reply
  • October 16, 2020 at 10:22 am
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    I have never had anything more serious than a 2nd degree burn (sunburn), fortunately. I have known people, however, who have experienced 3rd degree burns, leaving extensive scarring.

    I no longer get sunburned! Too painful for me. I use the best sunscreen I can afford and make sure that I don’t stay in the sun too long. Other burns that I have experienced, though, are 1st degree burns – splatter from bacon frying, accidentally touching a hot pan. With those, I have used a couple drops of lavender essential oil and it almost immediately stopped the pain. The only residual affects were redness and pain when taking a shower or washing that area with hot water. Although I feel that if someone wants to try this on themselves, that is fine IF and that is a BIG IF they know without a doubt that the burn is 1st degree!! Anything more than a 1st degree burn needs different treatment.

    We can talk about all of the ways we get burned from the minor to the catastrophic. The best way to treat is to take a first aid course that covers burns. And, refresh the course frequently.

    Some other things I think need to be addressed is preventing some of the most common burns. For example, something that I was taught from a very early age had to do with preventing burns in the kitchen. Pan handles need to ALWAYS be turned toward the back of the stove. I had an acquaintance whose 3 year old daughter pulled a pan of boiling water off the stove and had 3rd degree burns on her face, neck and chest. Having children in the kitchen = danger at that age! As kids learn to help in the kitchen, they need to be supervised and taught how to prevent burns – whether from hot water from the tap to anything in and around the stove. If you use any type of open flame for heating, you need to also be aware of the burns that can result from burning logs/wood, open flames from a gas stove as well. Burning candles around your home also presents the possibility of burns. I could go on!!

    Stay safe with fire!! Be aware of your surroundings and what could catch on fire, who is in the proximity of the fire or heat.

    Reply
    • October 16, 2020 at 10:37 am
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      Hi Leanne, we were taught never to have the pan-handles out where kids could get them. I will try the lavender oil next time, great tip! Linda

      Reply
  • October 16, 2020 at 10:24 am
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    I see you don’t recommend treating minor burns with ice (wrapped in a towel or cloth) or cold water but I’ve used those treatments successfully for decades. Just sayin. I usually followed them up by gently washing the burn with anti-bacterial soap, though I’ve used honey, which is also anti-bacterial, and covered the wound with a gauze dressing.

    God help anyone who gets truly serious burns after TSHTF as there may not be any doctors or resources around to help them.

    I”ve had a variety of 2d degree sunburns in my life and once even got what was called sun-poisoning when I spent a protracted amount of time above timberline. Nothing too serious and all healed without professional medical care. But now I’m in my 70’s I have to get the occasional basal cell melanoma cut out of my hide. Can’t help but wonder if they aren’t the lingering result of those bad sunburns.

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    • October 16, 2020 at 10:40 am
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      Hi Ray, you and I didn’t have sunscreen back in the day. But, oh my gosh, I always use ice for burns. I had some bad sunburns when I was growing up near a lake. I had no clue as to what a sunburn would do. Now you and I are having lingering issues from those sunburns. Yep, I agree with you! Linda

      Reply
    • October 16, 2020 at 12:17 pm
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      Ray, from my dermatologist, yes they are caused by sunburns. I’ve had some pretty serious sunburns in my younger days. Dumb blond that I was. LOL Who knew way back then that too much sun was so bad. I’ve had both basil cell and squamous cell skin cancer. Yep, I have scars, but hey, I’m still alive! My mother had a melanoma, so I’m prone to that as well. Haven’t had one yet though. I’ve never put ice on a burn, just cool water for about 5 minutes. It helps stop the burn from going deeper.

      The day before my husband d and I married, my daughter caught her cotton gown on fire. Her nylon panties melted to her bottom. She did have some 3rd degree burns, but no scaring. She went to the hospital every day to be soaked in water and the dead skin peeled off . It wasn’t fun to hear. Or see. She was 16 at the time. She’s now 47.

      Reply
  • October 16, 2020 at 4:19 pm
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    When we were in college, my spouse was a major in ceramics. Working around the big kilns, students frequently had minor burns. The common response was to quickly grab a clean paper towel, soak it with cold water, and use it to cover the reddened area to prevent air from touching the burn. The towel would be re-dampened a couple of times, then removed when no pain was noticeable. Almost no one who did this ever blistered, then or later. We still do this, only now we follow up with a thin application of sunburn gel containing aloe vera. No blisters! Keep a supply of that stuff in your prep!

    Reply
    • October 16, 2020 at 7:32 pm
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      Hi Terry, great tip on how to deal with burns, we must know how to treat them when an emergency happens. Thank you, Linda

      Reply
  • October 16, 2020 at 9:28 pm
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    Enjoyed your article. I would like to share with you a burn treatment I witnessed in a hospital on a child suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns in an er. The doctor cleansed and debrided the burns and then did something I had never seen before or since. He treated the wound with Campho Phenique liquid. The child immediately calmed and when he was released he was kept on thhe Campho covered with a gauze square until it was healed. The scars were gone completely upon healing completely. I have used it to disinfect and treat all degrees of burns ever since . I got a 2nd degree chemical burn under both arms, I suffered with it for days until I remembered I had campho with me and it saved my vacation. It is just one of God’s many miracles.

    Reply
    • October 16, 2020 at 9:34 pm
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      HI Mary Sue, oh my gosh, I grew up using that stuff. I totally had forgotten about it. I just ordered some off of Amazon. Great tip!! Thank you so much!! Linda

      Reply
  • October 16, 2020 at 9:49 pm
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    I imagine your mama used Vicks as well at the first sign of sniffles too, mine did. I have used it as well when it was needed to have an extra coating action. There are many uses for it an in this trying time it will coat your nasal passages and it’s anti bacterial action nd anti microbal and anti viral actions keep me safe, I have asthma and wearing a ‘mask’ has caused me to have an attack. I changed to a bandana and use vicks before I go out. It works and it helps m to control my allergies as well. I am glad this helpes you.

    Reply
    • October 17, 2020 at 8:38 am
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      Hi Mary, oh yeah I’m a BIG believer and lover of Vicks! I put it in my nasal passages just to go to sleep. I’m always stuffy. What a great idea for your asthma!! I worry about those with Asthma and masks. I’m so glad you thought to wear a bandana with our beloved Vicks!! Great tip! Linda

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      • October 17, 2020 at 1:21 pm
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        Hi Linda. This tip using a bandana and Vick’s has made my day. I used to have one or two episodes every couple of months but now have them regularly. I thought it was due to allergies but in retrospect realize it happens whenever I have to use a mask. Thank you Mary!

        We have aloe vera plants growing in our yard. They are great for minor burns. Simply cut off a piece, slit it open and apply the sap to the burn. It heals the burn and prevents scaring.

        I live in Hawaii (I know, poor me) and sunburns are a frequent occurrence. This sounds horrible but works. Apply Apple Cider vinegar to the burn for immediate relief . The smell doesn’t last that long and it’s worth it not to have to suffer any pain.

        Thank you for your dedication to providing us with resources for TSHTF. As you say, God Bless is all!

        Reply
        • October 17, 2020 at 1:58 pm
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          Hi Carol, isn’t it wonderful how we can learn from each other??? Thank you Mary for the bandanna trick with Vicks!! Thank you for your kind words, they mean so much to me. I used to grow Aloe Vera plants, I need to do that again. Thanks for the tip on the apple cider vinegar. I love it! Linda

          Reply
  • October 17, 2020 at 1:46 pm
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    Serious burns need medical attention. Sometimes its hard to know when to seek it though. Two years ago I was wiping the top of my glass stove top but didn’t realize one of the eyes was hot. As my hand wiped across it, I heard my skin sizzle. The skin on my fingers was like krinkled paper! It was hurting badly and I thought I needed to go to the ER. I live an hour from the hospital so I did try something first – it must have been a God thing- since I had never heard of it or used it before. I put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a cup of black tea and put my hand in it.
    Unbelievably, within 20 minutes the pain was almost gone. The skin on my fingers felt hard and it did peel off over the next week, but no serious damage. It was amazing!

    As for Vicks, even as a child I would vomit if it was used on me for a cold so I never used it on my children. My husband rubbed some on my two year old while I was in the hospital, and my son did the same thing.

    Reply
    • October 17, 2020 at 2:02 pm
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      Hi Grammy Chris, oh my gosh, I got the giggles over the vomit!! I wouldn’t have used it either if it made me throw up!! Oh my gosh! Isn’t it wonderful when we figure out how to heal ourselves like your burn? I can almost hear the sizzling, yikes! Glad you healed those fingers!! Great comment, thanks for sharing! Linda

      Reply
  • October 18, 2020 at 8:21 am
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    For minor burns I have used flour to treat the burn. I hit a burning barrel with my finger and it just sizzled and turned white. hurt like blazes. Got a bag of flour out of the freezer, stuck my hand in it, kept it in the bag for about 20 minutes. The pain was gone. It didn’t blister. It healed fine. I don’t know if it was the flour, the cold or both but it worked.

    Reply
    • October 18, 2020 at 9:13 am
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      Hi Gene, wow!! I love hearing your trick using flour! It’s critical we learn how to treat ourselves if and when we have zero doctors or healthcare facilities open and ready to serve us. I truly believe at some time in our life we must be prepared to heal our own bodies whatever it may be. Life is crazy, what a blessing you thought to grab that bag of flour from the freezer for your finger. Great tip! Linda

      Reply
  • October 28, 2020 at 11:20 pm
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    I”ve had a variety of 2d degree sunburns in my life and once even got what was called sun-poisoning when I spent a protracted amount of time above timberline. Nothing too serious and all healed without professional medical care. But now I’m in my 70’s I have to get the occasional basal cell melanoma cut out of my hide. Can’t help but wonder if they aren’t the lingering result of those bad sunburns.

    Reply
    • October 29, 2020 at 7:40 am
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      Hi Emma, sun-poisoning, wow!! My daughter used to play outside in the sandbox for hours and back then we didn’t know anything about sunblock cream. Now she has spots on her face from the sun damage. Makeup covers it but I wonder if at age 70 it may become worse. I agree with you on the sunburn damage. Linda

      Reply

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