Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guide to Treating Burns in the Field

Burns are a common but serious injury, requiring immediate medical attention. When out in the field, immediate precautions must be taken to stop the burn from spreading and preventing others from becoming burned. In order to provide proper treatment, you must first identify the cause of the injury and type of burn.

Identify the Class of the Burn

First degree burns look like a sunburn, often maintaining the shape of the heated object that they came in contact with. This heat has only penetrated the outer layers of skin. Treating a first degree burn is primarily about providing comfort. Second degree burns have blisters in addition to skin redness. Third degree burns have penetrated the layers and skin to reveal fatty tissue, muscle or bone underneath. These are extremely dangerous, and the patient might not understand the severity of their injury since their nerves may have been damaged.

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns refer to all injuries caused by heat whether open flames or heated objects. Check for any flames present on the victim's clothing and put them out immediately. A specialist from The Garmon Law Firm says burn injuries can lead to scarring and long-term emotional distress, so it's important to treat even minor burns as soon as possible. Even if you think the burn isn’t serious, do your best to ensure the victim receives proper medical attention.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns are blisters caused by electric currents coursing through the body. Touching an electrified person can send the current coursing into your body as well. Assume all wires in the victim's vicinity are active and check to see if any wires are currently touching the victim. If possible, turn off all electrical switches in the area. If the victim is currently laying on an active wire, use a piece of wood or non-conductive clothing to lift them off.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are identified by skin contact with dangerous materials, such as quick-lime or ammonia. Liquid chemicals need to be diluted and washed away as soon as possible with copious amounts of water. If the chemical was a dry powder, do not immediately clean with water. First brush off as much as the chemical as possible with dry cloth.

Treating a Burn

After removing the cause of the burn, begin treating the wound. Expose the burned area but leave any clothing or material sticking to the wound in place. Remove any of the victim’s jewelry that might cut circulation should the area swell. Use clean cloth to cover the wound completely without breaking any of the blisters. Do not apply any topical medications to the area and seek immediate medical help. Supply the victim with water to drink to replenish their fluids.

Burns can quickly become open wounds that require medical attention to avoid infection. By following these steps, you can help avoid escalating the injury.


Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston. When she manages to tear herself away from the computer, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and film noir.

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