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How Do You Treat Burns and Scalds
in the Wilderness?

It's essential that you have some basic principles of wilderness first aid and know how to apply them, even under stress. Even knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency situation. You can treat minor injuries and keep serious casualties stable until further help is available.

Follow these steps to treat burns and scalds:

Step 1: Flood the injured part with cold water for at least 10 minutes to stop the burning and relieve the pain. If you are not carrying much water, plunge the injured area into a stream.

Step 2: It is important to protect the area of injured tissue from infection. If you have nothing else, wrapping a clean polythene bag around the burn or scald is an effective measure.

Step 3: As soon as possible, lay a pad of clean gauze over the injured area and secure it with a bandage, but not too tightly. Do not use adhesive dressing or strapping, or apply lotions, ointments, creams or fats (such as butter) to the affected area. If blisters have formed, do not press or prick at them because they protect the skin underneath from infection.

Need more information on hiking, backpacing and surviving in the wilderness? We recommend Hugh McManners' books, available at Amazon.com.

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