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[at-l] The Burn and FSN/Cotton/Rules

Fellow listers may remember that 2 weeks ago I made a series of errors 
resulting in a flash fire from my attempt to restart a Pepsi Can alcohol 
stove, burning my left forearm. I had extensive second degree burns and a 
couple of small third degree burn areas. There were small splash burns 
surrounding my wrist watch, a line along the radius, and a long broad swath 
across the flexor muscles wrapping around my ulna. Overall, probably 30 
square inches of burn.

It has been treated with Silvadene cream twice a day wrapped in Kling gauze 
after washing and debriding. Debridement was pretty painful but essential 
the first week. I was amused to be able to observe the skin cover the large 
region this weekend. Hair began poking through and skin fairly burst from 
the follicles after much slower progression from the edges. By Sunday, all 
had a fairly hypertrophic skin cover except for the most severely burned 
skin, also in the thinnest skin region of the arm. Today all is covered 
although somewhat fragile, and terribly itchy and tender to touch.

That said, I am relieved to be nearly over this little event. The comment 
last week about FSN led me to thought about the flame war over cooking 
under tent/tarp vestibules, and my caution over risk of accident and 
injury. I would not wish a burn on anyone. Last week we also commented an 
aside on the old adage of "Cotton Kills," and how many use cotton without 

We have these "rules" as a guide to preventing problems, especially for 
newbies. As we gain experience, we learn individually when and where these 
rules can be allowed to slide, as well as where to adhere religiously. For 
instance, cotton is probably not a great item near Clingman's Dome most 
anytime of year given the winds and changing temperatures, but thousands 
manage to do it until they can get back to the car. Cooking in tents and 
under tarps can be the same, especially when conditions are such that ice 
fields and wind prevent other cooking or means of making water. It helps to 
have the type of gear and tent that can handle this, but expedition gear 
isn't exactly the norm for the AT.

Flash fires happen in a flash. One doesn't have the opportunity to run or 
to dodge. Murphy was an optimist regarding accidents and mistakes. I hope 
my painful experience helps others avoid similar trauma. I hope those who 
feel confident to bend the rules remain confident and successful. I feel 
sorry for those who hear my cautions about these rules as an insult to 
their skills or manhood. Insult is not intended nor warranted.