What to Do for Burns
IT MAY surprise you to know that daily thousands of people suffer burns. In the United States alone an average of some 270 persons each day are burned seriously enough to be hospitalized. Should you or a friend be a burn victim, there are things you can do to minimize and even reverse the damage.
To illustrate: This past summer Anna Helak, a 59-year-old woman in New York city, was preparing dinner for guests. When she opened the door to her oven, there was a blast of heat and fire. Fortunately, she was not seriously hurt, her upper right arm evidently being the only part of her body touched by the fire. Since her guests were soon to arrive, she wrapped her burned arm in a towel and continued her dinner preparations.
When the guests began to arrive, Anna was still visibly shaken—somewhat in shock—and her arm was beginning to pain. When the towel was removed, the flesh was red and starting to blister. One of the guests asked that a bucket be filled with ice water.
Anna was then instructed to place her burned arm in the bucket. She breathed a sigh of relief, the cold almost instantly deadening the pain. But when, after a few minutes, she removed her arm from the bucket, the arm began hurting again. She was instructed to keep her arm in the water and to remove it every 20 minutes or so.
It was not until about three hours later that Anna could keep her arm out of the bucket of cold water without its hurting. The arm healed without scarring or any further complications or pain. Anna was most appreciative that one of her guests knew what to do for burns.
For many years the medical profession almost ignored this simple cold-water treatment. But recent medical literature has pointed out that the immediate cooling of burns is the single most beneficial procedure. During the 1960’s, Dr. Alex G. Shulman took a lead in reviving the cold-water treatment. In an article in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” he reported on the successful treatment of 150 patients who had burns of all degrees, but with less than 20 percent of the body surface affected.
The burned area was immersed in a large basin of cold water to which ice cubes and hexachlorophene were added. If the burned part could not be submerged in water, then ice-cold moist towels were applied to the part. “The time factor between injury and treatment determines the result,” he noted. “This treatment should, therefore, be initiated if possible by the patient or first-aid attendant at once.”
What should be done for burns? Immediately apply cold to them. Prompt action is vital. It can relieve a lot of suffering and prevent scarring.