by Kellene

For the past 10 years I’ve been teaching others how to easily use a pressure cooker in their modern-day kitchens. It’s no secret that I absolutely LOVE mine and simply could not live with as much peace of mind without it.  Amidst my classes I frequently encounter persons who have horror stories of how the pressure cooker blew up in their grandmother’s kitchen spraying tomatoes all over the ceiling. I always assure them that such horror stories have a logical reason and need not be the norm. In fact, I believe that pressure cookers are very, very safe to use in the homes. Think of me as the Pressure Cooker Dragonslayer. *grin*  Pressure cookers are harmless—unless of course, you encounter an “ID-10-T” error.  Yes, the” I.D. one zero tee error”, as espoused by the IT tech geeks with a sense of humor, otherwise known as an “idiot” error, does indeed have the power to ruin a good day. But you never know. There just might be a useful lesson in there for your preparedness efforts. I know I got a wake up call.

Let’s just cut to the chase. I was stupid. I was trying to film a short instructional video on my Flip, which I held in my right hand.  I had released all of the pressure in the cooker, and was attempting to lift off the lid with my left hand—my weak hand. As such, I foolishly got distracted with the camera angle and didn’t pay attention to the fact that I was placing my left hand right in the middle of the stream of hot steam that was escaping from the pan.  Immediately my left hand seared with pain and I dropped the lid.  I went to the sink to run water over it, but it became quickly apparent by the intensity of pain that this wasn’t a simple burn.

I’ll go ahead and admit that while I (surprisingly) did not utter a single swear word, I was scared and really, really hurting. I was the only one at home at the time and since the running water was the only thing giving me any semblance of comfort I felt slightly handcuffed to the sink. Oh…I have never been in such pain—ever! I suspect I panicked a bit and didn’t think clearly. Then I made myself breathe, say a quick prayer, and then tried to think of what in the world I could do to solve this serious problem.  Should I call 9-1-1? No. Too expensive. Should I drive myself to the ER? Nope. I simply could not leave the running water that long as the pain was simply too intense—and besides, what would I do if I couldn’t get to a hospital and this happened? (Yes, in my warped mind I DID indeed still think like this) The hospital would have given me a good shot, cleaned the wound, and sent me on my way along with a hefty bill.

So, I escaped the water long enough to make a sound decision on which essential oil to use. I instinctively went with the Lavender oil. But taking my hand out of the water and letting the oil soothe me wasn’t an option. Again—it was simply too painful. So I grabbed a nearby bowl, filled it with water, and then dropped the essential oil in there. I found some comfort this way. I won’t continue with this mess except to say that I have never been so happy to hear my dogs bark to tell me that my husband was home. Although he was shocked a bit to see me so distressed and crying, he simply knew what to do and went about it in a very matter of fact manner. He applied Burn Free, wrapped the hand, and wanted me to keep it elevated. Sorry Honey. I know you just did this pretty wrapping job on my hand, but I SO want to plunge it back into the water for some relief.  So he endured my water ritual for the next 6 hours until I could finally bear the pain long enough for it to crest and he could rewrap it.

So why in the world am I sharing this somewhat embarrassing story with all of you? Because I got hit with a taste of reality that has an affect on my preparedness efforts. I know I have learned a few things, so I hope you can too.

1)      I need a heck of a lot more gauze, medical tape, and bandages.  So I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out more  for those kinds of items. But I’ll also get back to crocheting my own bandages. They are a lot thicker than the commercial gauze and more durable and thus can get cleaned, sanitized and reused. The stitching is easy and mindless, so it can be done while you’re watching the kids soccer practice or your favorite TV show.

2)      Essential oils are great for care, but perhaps not the best for emergency care in the event of a laceration, broken bone, or immediately after a severe burn such as this.  While using them instead of chemical drugs is a good idea, I certainly wouldn’t advise relying on them solely for true emergency scenarios. I sure wouldn’t postpone the resetting of a bone or stopping the bleeding while you go and try to figure out which essential oil is best. (Although my instincts did NOT lead me astray in this case—thank heavens.) They definitely help in the healing process and the lavender water felt a heck of a lot better than the just plain water. I’m positive that I would have had more blistering and burning had I not taken this treatment to task early on. But the essential oils simply cannot replace the learning of other key medicines and procedures.

3)      I need more Burn Free! If we had a half dozen people affected by a severe burn, I would have run out of that stuff faster than a toilet flushes. It’s also more likely the burn accidents can occur if you’re living amidst your non-traditional methods of cooking such as a butane stove, fire pit, etc.

4)      Aspirin is an analgesic and the only one of the traditional pain relievers that can be claimed as such.  While I actually had on hand some more robust pain relievers, all they did was mask it whereas the aspirin really did relieve the pain and the source thereof.  So I’ll give it a bit more credit in my preparedness repertoire in the future.  My girlfriend who’s a long-time nurse told me to go ahead and take 4, even 6 aspirin if I needed to. While it may make my ears ring, it will do a great job at diffusing the pain—and she was right on both counts. However, be sure that you drink PLENTY of water if you consume any kind of medicine like this. It’s hard on your poor liver, stomach lining, and kidneys, so they need a little extra boost.

I’m sure that I have more to share on this matter (such as the Frankincense essential oil is doing a great job at making my hand appear a little less “raw”) including other methods that I have on hand that I could have used instead. But it sure did open my eyes at how vulnerable we could be without immediate access to medical care. So boning up on my emergency medical skills is definitely in it’s rightful place as the second more important aspect of Preparedness—Mental Preparedness.

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Lynn · June 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Ouch!!!! I am so sorry you went through all that……and for us! Hope it’s healing much better soon. Thanks for sharing what you learned through all that. Good to know.

Emily · June 21, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Hope you’re feeling better. Ouch! I have a new (To me, that is. It’s about 60 years old) pressure canner and I’m a little intimidated. I probably shouldn’t have read this, LOL.

Darcy · June 21, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Thanks for the tips about the oil and Burn Free. I hope that you heal with minimal scarring..and really quickly!

Fred · June 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm

It is easier(cheaper)to store tea tree oil than burnfree,and is the active ingredient in burnfree.Burnfree is in lotion form and will stay on better,but if you are going to bandage it,it does not matter,just put it on the gauze.It also adds to the effectiveness of either one to keep them in the fridge.

    Kellene · June 21, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I had heard that once, Fred, but my hand didn’t agree with me when I tried it after I had settled down. It intensified the pain a bit so I just couldn’t handle it. grrr… I’d much rather spend my money on tea tree oil.

Renee · June 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Burn Free is actually one of the items our church group is buying this month. I think i’ll increase the amount i’m ordering.

Sorry about the ouchie!!!!!!

Would love to hear about Pressure Canning…..I just bought one and i’m anxiouse to increase my knowledge.

Love your blog…..please keep the wonderful information coming.


tammy · June 22, 2010 at 12:02 am

What about a good old fashion aloe vera plant? whould that have helped or is there something different about this particular burn?

Andra · June 22, 2010 at 12:12 am

Sorry to learn of your injury. Burns are painful and you don’t realize you are in shock – even small surface area burns can throw your system into a shock reaction. I keep a bottle of aloe vera gel in the refrigerator for incidents like that. It can be applied directly onto the skin for scalding burns as well as sunburn, abrasions, cuts, insect bites, stuff like that. It really helps relieve the pain and I’ve read it also has antibacterial qualities. You can also grow the aloe vera plant and cut off a leaf and squeeze the gel from the leaf directly on the wound. I used it on my hand when I burned it cooking and it really helps take the pain away and heals well if continued use – apply several times a day for a few days usually does the trick. Hope you feel better.

Lisa · June 22, 2010 at 1:46 am

Just so you know, you shouldn’t put anything on a burn for 24 hours! Only cool water and lavendar oil,tea tree oil or both OR an aloe leaf that has been opened up and apply the whole opened side of the leaf. Lotions hold the heat in and cause the burn to be worse.

Donna · June 22, 2010 at 2:09 am

OK, never heard of Tea Tree Oil. Where do you get it? I am sorry you were burned. We must be “Quick to Observe” and learn from this experience of your’s so we will better handle our own emergencies whatever they may be. Staying calm is #1. Have to keep that Boy Scout Handbook with our emergency supplies.

Believer · June 22, 2010 at 4:13 am

I’m sorry about your burn. That really hurts. I have had a lot of success with Tea Tree Oil as well. If I could only have one oil, that would be the one. Lavender oil is good too, and you can use them together. Oregano oil can kill Ecoli.

I hope your hand gets better fast. Vit. E oil can hasten healing. Aloe Vera is wonderful for burns as well.

    Kellene · June 22, 2010 at 4:46 am

    I love how on top of it you guys all are. Yup. Aloe Vera would have worked great. But, didn’t think of that until well after and I had no idea where it was in all of our stuff. That is definitely going to get found and put in our kitchen this weekend!

      Joann · June 22, 2010 at 8:50 pm

      Hey Kellene, I took a class from Neil @ Redmond Clay in Feb. and another option is clay mixed in a jar (large enough to put your hand in or to make a quick poultice from). He has some AMAZING stories. My son has skin problems when he works on boy toys and his hands get burned looking and are painful and he pours clay water (that is kept in the frig.) over his hands and he swears by it …just been doing it since Feb. It works great for him, his hands would burn and be painful and it clears up the RED and makes them feel normal.

Sherry · June 22, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Aloe is one of the easiest plants to grow and will spread abundently. It is in the cactus family so it doesn’t freeze well. Keep it inside in a container for the winter. Tea Tree Oil also known as Melaluca Oil is easily found on line or in the larger drug stores. You kinda have to look for it or ask as it comes in small bottles, usually brown to protect it from light. It is an essential for any prepper.

    Donna · June 24, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Thanks for the information. I will look for the oil and also buy me an aloe plant. I canned 14 pints of chicken today and was very careful when I lifted the lid so I didn’t do the same thing.

Rhonda · June 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I’m like you. When I get a burn, nothing feels as good as keeping your hand (that’s what I usually burn) in a bowl of water. As soon as I take my hand out of the water, it feels like it starts “cooking” all over again. Ugh … how I hate burns. Hope you’re feeling better and good for you for having such a good husband to take care of you! 🙂

Al Fin · June 22, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Silvadene (silver sulfadiazene) cream is good if you’re not allergic. Aloe is quite good if it’s pure and fresh. I strongly recommend getting a friendly MD to prescribe for your household medicine cabinet. Apply sparingly and cover, change daily.

A circumferential burn that constricts the lymphatics all the way around a finger, the hand, wrist, or arm, can be quite dangerous, as can 3rd degree full thickness burns if not recognised. An infection of a burn might go unrecognised since pain, redness, and swelling would already be present from the burn itself. You and most of your readers would notice that the symptoms were not getting better, but you might be surprised at how long some people let these things go.

But in general, as long as you keep them clean, most ordinary household burns are going to heal even if you do nothing but elevate the part.

Tea trea oil is a good antimicrobial, so you should definitely always keep some around. It can save a lot of money for doctor visits in a number of different situations.

jamie · June 23, 2010 at 1:54 am

Getting a burn cooled is paramount. An ice water bath is great. You did the right thing if a burn still feels hot to the touch or uncomfortable exposed to air keep cooling it, only 1st and 2nd degree burns. All 3rd degree burns (charing) must be treated as a Medical Emergency. Water baths are better than running water for cooling. The damage skin dosen’t need running water on it.
I have to admit it would make a great video of what not to do and how to deal with an emergency. Sorry you got hurt but I know you got to be tuff to live in the West, and girl you are tuff.

Cin · June 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Thank goodness it only affected your hand and did not hit you higher up the arm or in the eyes or over your face. You poor thing. Burn pain is horrible!
I can say for a certainty that immediate “ice” water in a “clean” basin will subdue the initial pain, but immediate attention has to be very quick for the type of relief you would have wanted. Any delay in getting the hand into the “ice” water only prolongs the pain and adds to scarring.
I also agree with the others on putting on the aloe as soon as you remove the hand from the water. Patting the area dry with a clean cloth is better than rubbing the area dry, but air drying is best. Also, if any apparent disfiguration in skin is visible, it is reason for outside professional medical care to prevent deep infections and scarring. We need our precious hands for so many tasks.
Hope you heal quickly!
All my best to you Kellene.

D'Ann · June 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm

This idea may not work on a burn as bad as yours, but something that really works well on less severe burns is grated potato…someone passed this idea o me several years ago, and fortunately I have only had to try it a couple of time on a burned finger. For that small a burn, I just grated a potato into a small plastic bag and stuck my finger into it. Next day, no pain and hardly red. The idea was passed to me by a friend that was doing a catering job and splashed boiling water onto her hand and arm. Someone who was helping her at the party did the potato trick; as severe as the burn was her re-coop time was probably longer, but it did take away enough pain that she was able to finish her catering job that evening…BTW, heal quickly, and thanks for all the wonderful info you share so that we can be more prepared for whatever life brings.

Terilyn · June 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I don’t know if anyone else mentioned this, but burn units use silver sulfadiazine cream on extensive burns. There are other silver preparations used in western medicine too, but this one is the main topical used in burns. Everyone should have some colloidal silver at home for use in burns. It is an extremely strong antibiotic. As I said burn units and hospitals use it extensively in burn cases.
I’m glad you are ok.

Myra V. · July 4, 2010 at 4:04 am

Thank goodness you weren’t able to keep your hand out of the water long enough to apply oil!!

NEVER apply oil, butter, fat to a burn!

Although the heat source is gone, the underlying tissue continues to “burn” (sorry, don’t remember how this was explained many years ago, maybe our instructor meant the burn continues to spread in our tissues). Cool water slows this, but fats/oils makes it worse, she used the analogy of us frying ourselves.

Also, still water is better than running water, like from the faucet, since the skin is already so damaged.

I don’t know how long we’re not supposed to apply oil/fats to burns though, since she was teaching us first responder care, not long term care.

I had a molten toffee burn once, and I kept my hand in a bowl of water for what seemed like hours before I could tolerate it being out of the water.

Get well soon!

    Kellene · July 4, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Myra, you’ll be happy to know that essential oils aren’t actually “oils” as you and I know them. (See my article on Essential oils here

    Note to all, the hand is almost completely normal now. Thank goodness! And thanks to all of you for your kindness and concern.

Debora · July 12, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Hi I just recently found your site and am very impressed. I had to comment on your story though, as I went through something similar many many years ago when I was 15. I was a Girl Scout on a Senior GS Summer Day Camp. Because we were Seniors, we got the privilege of creating our own campsite and staying a week in it rather than having to go home. In a cow pasture near Houston, built a dining shelter, Chippewa kitchen, tables, stools, dug latrines and had the times of our life! On the night before we were to break camp and go home, I burned my hand on the top of an old Coleman pump-up lantern. I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking, but I laid my left hand (fingers, not palm) on the top of the lantern — to hold it in place! I absolutely cooked my fingers. The adult leader of our group was an RN and veteran First Aider. She ordered my buddy to get a coffee can and fill it with ice. I was ordered to keep the hand in the ice all night (it was around 10pm when this happened). My buddy was also ordered to get up all night long whenever I needed ice. She asked how she would know when I needed ice and was told “She’ll know.” Boy did I ever. As soon as the ice would melt the water would warm to my hand temperature and wake me up and I would wake up Kathy — until I couldn’t wake her — she was just too tired. I got up for the next couple of hours and got my own ice. In the morning, our leader bandaged each finger separately, then bandaged the whole hand, then tied my left hand to my right shoulder. I longed for the comfort of the ice, but it wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be. By 9:00 a.m. my Mom, who was the Camp Director that year, arrived. She asked what happened, got her answer and we stayed for the Noon final flag ceremony. She called the doctor that afternoon, told him what first aid had been given. He said see him in a week and he’d change the dressing. I have no scars — except for the mental one of laying my hand down on that lantern in the first place!!! Again — thanks for this wonderful site. I hope to join in some of your webinars soon!

daryl r · June 17, 2011 at 12:13 am

I’ve had a similar situation (not from a pressure cooker but a nasty steam burn) and after icing it in an ice bath, I covered it with raw honey and saran wrap, then put it in a plastic baggie and back into the ice water bath. The next day, the blister was almost gone.

Pam · June 17, 2011 at 2:54 am

I am so sorry to hear about your burn. Several years ago I was taking a steak out of the broiler and pressed my arm against the broiler coil. At first I didn’t even realize I had been burnt, but then I felt the pain and saw my skin was actually charred in a small circle. It was interesting and water was my best friend as well. I didn’t go to the doctor because it affected a rather small area, but I carry the scar as a reminder to pay attention! I am intrigued by your comment that you crochet your own bandages. As a person who loves to crochet, I would be interested in hearing more. Feel better!

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