Compromising on emergency first aid to save the planet

Whoever came up with the treatment for superficial burns didn’t grow up on a dry land farm in the early 1980s drought. I loved my old top loader washing machine; when I’d hear the last lot of rinsing water start to drain, I’d run from wherever I was in the house (even if I was breastfeeding on the couch) to put the plug into the big old laundry trough to catch all that beautiful water. When the machine had finished draining and spinning, I’d bucket all the precious slightly blue water back into the machine to wash the next load. I saw my mum doing it in the 80s and I was still doing it right up until last year when my old machine stopped working and I upgraded to a front loader (a decision only made easier because the new front loaders apparently use hardly any water).

Elsie and Maeve know to wet their hands under the tap, turn the tap off, squirt some soap and lather and scrub before turning the tap back on to finish.

So last night when I grabbed hold of the handle of a frying pan that had been in the oven, two reflexes kicked in. The first was to drop the frying pan. The second was to get on Google and see if surely they’d updated the recommendation for burns treatment. Nope, it’s still hold your hand under cool running water for 20 minutes.


There’s no way I’m running a tap for 20 seconds, let alone 20 minutes, so for the next 20 minutes I held my hand in the water jug out of the fridge. For a moment I was grateful that I wasn’t a footballer having an ice bath. Then I started wishing I still had my top loader; I could have put a load of washing on and held my hand under the pipe while it drained.

2 thoughts on “Compromising on emergency first aid to save the planet

  1. Firstly, I hope your hand is better and no permanent damage (Burnaid is a FANTASTIC ointment for burns and is a staple in our home.) Secondly, I had never thought about the healing properties of running water versus still water, and the specific healing time of 20 minutes versus 10 or 30 – just followed first aid advice without question! And to hold a toddlers burnt hand under any water for any amount of time is a challenge so we use the burnaid and a cold pack – no burn scars so far. And…. when Alex pulled down a bowl of just stewed and pureed apple off the cupboard and onto his upper body I instinctively pulled off his shirt (so against all first add advice) and put him in bath and tried to “run” cold water over the poor little soul – I can still hear his screaming now – not from the burn but from his frantic mother throwing him in a cold bath!! Ahh, we live and learn.


    1. Oh Christine, what an experience (for you and Alex). I feel for you. Maybe the whole idea behind the cold running water and a toddler is distraction?! Jokes aside, I hope he was okay and thank you for your concern – my hand was perfectly fine the next day (funny how something so sore one day can be so good the next…). I will add Burnaid to my shopping list, thanks for the tip!


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