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99 Capacities Series – Capacity #22: Avoid, Treat, and Soothe Burns

The twenty-second capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must [be able to] avoid, treat, and sooth burns. In it I state that:

You must “Avoid, treat, and soothe burns (e.g., sunburns and other burns). Burns will make any person considerably more miserable, even in good times. While it’s best to avoid getting burned in the first place, you should also include appropriate bandages and salves used to soothe and/or protect burns from infection because sometimes accidents happen.”

Avoiding Burns

The first and probably the most important aspect of burn treatment is to prevent them in the first place! It should go without saying that it’s critical you stop and think about what you’re doing or about to do, especially with respect to dangerous activities that could get your hurt; any activity that has the potential to burn you should fall into that category.

Obviously, there are many things that can cause burns in an emergency situation, including boiling water, campfire cooking, lighting a wood stove, and so on. The worst part is that you’re far more likely to get a nasty burn during such an emergency for the simple fact that you’re probably doing something that is not very familiar. To make matters worse, you could very well be stressed out, tired, grouch, and more… all of which will cause you to make mistakes.

What to do about it? First, if you don’t already do so, learn to “take 2″ for safety. Simply take two minutes to contemplate and plan what you’re intending to do before tackling any potentially harmful activity such as those mentioned previously. Second, practice makes perfect. The more accustomed you are to performing these emergency survival skills the less likely you will be to hurt yourself. Third, teach others how to do these things. This not only ensures your family is more well-rounded but would provide another set of eyes to watch and ensure you’re doing things correctly.

Soothing Burns

Depending on the severity of the burn, there are a number of potential methods to soothe the pain and minimize the swelling. I’m not sure how effective some of these are–and don’t hold me to them either–but here are a few that I’ve found: cold water (probably the best idea), aloe vera gel, Water Jel (includes lidocaine), wet tea bags, toothpaste, milk, vitamin E oil, salt and more. And please do your own research to determine the safety of these potential methods.

Treating Burns

Just as in a previous 99 capacities post on wound treatment, I’m not the best resource to explain what you can and should do. Fortunately, there are plenty of free and inexpensive materials out there. As it is pertinent to this discussion as well, I will reprint some of the material from that post here with a few changes/additions:

While medial supplies are a must, knowledge is key as well. Therefore, it is a must that you have a quality medical reference at hand, such as those found in the medical guides section of the Guide to the Net pages all of which can be downloaded and freely printed. I would also encourage you to have at least one emergency wilderness reference, such as Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid 5th Edition. I keep this book in our bug out bags and believe it is a useful reference for a variety of situations.

I also hear very good thing about The Survival Medicine Handbook from the good people who run

With respect to burn treatment specifically, I would strongly encourage you to purchase The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns by, which I had the pleasure of reviewing not too long ago along with his Guide to Wound Treatment. And the best part is that it’s very inexpensive and available for immediate download from Amazon.

You might also be interested in these wound treatment posts from both DoomAndBloom and TheSurvivalDoctor sites mentioned above:

Books Referenced in this Post:

Note: This post is part of an ongoing series detailing the ideas from my free eBook, The 99 Capacities You MUST Acquire BEFORE Disaster Strikes You!, which you may freely download here.

5 comments to 99 Capacities Series – Capacity #22: Avoid, Treat, and Soothe Burns

  • T.R.

    Burns are one of the nastiest things to happen because the pain lasts for so long , and the healing isn’t much faster .

  • Peirce

    For a 2nd/3rd degree burn that covers more body area than the size of their hand (not yours), Keflex (cephalexin) and IV/SQ fluids would, I think, be recommended. Least that’s what the vet recommended when my fish, Flex, got burned.

  • Martin

    The ability to properly deal with burns will certainly be more important in any emergency situation. I’ll be sure to check out the Survival Doctor book as it never hurts to have more information on hand.