Survival Medicine: Burns


The following field treatment for burns relieves the pain somewhat, seems to help speed healing, and offers some protection against infection:

  • First, stop the burning process. Put out the fire by removing clothing, dousing with water or sand, or by rolling on the ground. Cool the burning skin with ice or water. For burns caused by white phosphorous, pick out the white phosphorous with tweezers; do not douse with water.

  • Soak dressings or clean rags for 10 minutes in a boiling tannic acid solution (obtained from tea, inner bark of hardwood trees, or acorns boiled in water).

  • Cool the dressings or clean rags and apply over burns.

  • Treat as an open wound.

  • Replace fluid loss.

  • Maintain airway.

  • Treat for shock.

  • Consider using morphine, unless the burns are near the face.


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