So, Tuesday night (when I usually write these updates) I was one-handed owing to balancing an ice pack on my left hand and wrist. Incidents happen in the kitchen, no matter who you are, and there’s more than one reason why old fashioned pan-fried pork chops are not a good idea.
The tongs I was using to lift the last chop slipped and very hot oil splattered right (or, rather, left) in my direction.
Pop Quiz: What’s the best way to treat a burn?
If you said “put butter on it,” you fail.
Think about it for a moment: why do we use fat in cooking?
- Fat makes things taste good! Yes, but there are other reasons…
- To keep things from sticking in the pan? Also correct, but there’s one more…
- It’s an excellent heat conductor? Ding ding ding ding!
Heat is energy and oils can take hold of and transfer lots of energy owing to their high smoke points. Does your food go cool the moment you remove it from the oil? No. It stays hot, even continuing to cook a bit (in a process called carryover cooking). Why, then, would you want to add more fat to your cooking flesh?
Now that I’ve probably killed your appetite for a bit (don’t worry, it’ll come back), there are a couple of right ways to treat a burn at home.
- Go for the cold! Just like when you blanch foods and plunge them into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking, cold water and ice are a simple burns best friends. Direct application can be a bit of an extreme change, though, so pop some ice (with a bit of salt and a splash of water) into a plastic bag, wrap in a towel and apply to the affected area.
- Aloe Vera, just broken off from the plant, is also very soothing for minor scrapes and burns.
- When possible, elevate the burned portion above heart-level to reduce swelling.
- If the burned area remains hot to the touch, soak a towel in cold milk and apply to the hot area (this also works great with sunburns, by the way). Rinsing and repeating as necessary.
It also helps to know the different stages of burns and when it’s okay to treat at home and when you really need to see a doctor!
First degree burns are just redness and maybe some swelling. Second degree burns have blisters and care needs to be taken not to puncture them to avoid infection. These can usually be treated at home by the remedies above but if the burn covers a significant portion of the body (or limb), a doctor’s visit is worth the trouble as second degree burns can reach deeper into the skin and be harder to heal. Covering the burned area with a loose gauze dressing is helpful if you think you’d be prone to bumping or aggravating the area but air circulation really does help the healing process.
Third and fourth degrees involve deep, deep burns, going down into muscles and need immediate medical attention. Call 911 and hope for the best. (May you never encounter this sort of burn–in the kitchen or out!)
Now, there is one use of butter for burns that I can get behind: ointments and salves can be applied to the burn once the initial pain, heat and tingling subside for the purpose of keeping the skin supple and preventing scarring.
Tuesday night I ended up with 7 spots (splatter effect, remember) of first degree and one second-degree burn. A night with the ice pack and some basic painkillers did the trick and now I’m just careful not to brush them against anything while they heal. Not attractive (hence, no pictures) but I’ve had worse–it’s a hazard you accept in the kitchen.
[Disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever played on TV, a doctor. These are just basic first aid skills that I’ve learned over time and should not be mistaken for medical advice.]
Oh, and Chapter 5? The first 3.5 pages are penciled (we lost power Sunday night and penciling by candlelight was not going to happen). I’m out of town this coming weekend so progress between now and next week may not be massive, but I’ll try to have something worth reporting!