Liquids should be administered sparingly, and not at all if medical attention will be available within
a short time. If necessary, small amounts of warm water, tea, or coffee may be given to a victim who is
conscious. Persons having serious burns are an exception. Burn victims require large amounts of fluids.
Water, tea, fruit juices, and sugar water may be given freely to a victim who is conscious, able to
swallow, and has no internal injuries. Slightly salted water is also beneficial. Alcohol must never be given
to a person in shock.
An injured person may or may not be in pain. The amount of pain felt depends in part on the person's
physical condition and the type of injury. Extreme pain, if not relieved, can increase the degree of shock.
Make the victim as comfortable as possible. Fractures should be immobilized and supported.
Immobilization greatly reduces, and sometimes eliminates, pain. Normally, you should not administer
drugs, but aspirin may be given for mild pain.
Heat is important in the treatment of shock to the extent that the injured person's body heat must be
conserved. Exposure to cold, with resulting loss of body heat, can cause shock to develop or to become
worse. You will have to judge the amount of covering to use by considering the weather and the general
circumstances of the accident. Often a light covering will be enough to keep the casualty comfortable.
Wet clothing should be removed and dry covering provided, even on a hot day. Use blankets or any dry
material to conserve body heat. Artificial means of warming (hot water bottles, heated bricks, heated
sand) should not ordinarily be used. Artificial heat may cause loss of body fluids (by sweating) and it
brings the blood closer to the surface, thus defeating the body's own efforts to supply blood to the vital
organs and to the brain. Also, the warming agent may burn the victim.
The seriousness of a burn depends on two factors: the extent of the burned area and the depth of the
burn. Shock can be expected from burns involving 15 percent or more of the body. Burns involving 20
percent endanger life. Without adequate treatment, burns of over 30 percent are usually fatal. The depth
of the injury determines whether it is a first, second, or third degree burn.
First degree burns are mildest. Symptoms are slight pain, redness, tenderness, and increased
temperature of the affected area.
Second degree burns are more serious. The inner skin may be damaged, resulting in blistering,
severe pain, some dehydration, and possible shock.
Third degree burns are worst of all. The skin is destroyed, and possibly also the tissue and muscle
beneath it. The skin may be charred, or it may be white and lifeless (from scalds). After the initial injury,
pain may be less severe because of destroyed nerve ends. The person may have chills. Some form of
shock will result.
Probably the most important aspect is the extent of the burned area. A first degree burn covering a
large area could be more serious than a small third degree burn. A sunburn, for example, ranging from
mild to serious, is easily obtained, particularly if you are not accustomed to the exposure. If you were to
fall asleep while sunbathing, second degree burns, or even third degree burns of a possibly fatal nature,
The most effective immediate treatment of burns and of pain is to immerse the burned area in cold
water or to apply cold compresses if immersion is impracticable. Cold water not only minimizes pain, but
also reduces the burning effect in the deeper layers of the skin. Gently pat dry the area with lint-free cloth
or gauze. Aspirin is also effective for the relief of pain. Continue treatment until no pain is felt when the
burned area is exposed to the air.