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Old 01-05-2013, 03:23 PM   #1
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Cauterizing a wound

I've got a question on cauterizing a wound. My character has had a finger cut off (their little finger FWIW). The only possible heat source they have is their cigarette lighter. Any chance this would be enough to seal the wound?

And yes, I know this is slightly silly and over the top. It's supposed to be.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:30 PM   #2
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Well, since you said "over the top" (and possibly on the goofy side), I think a cigarette lighter would do the trick. I sure hope someone has some alcohol handy.

Are you going for a sort of gag?
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:43 PM   #3
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Well, since you said "over the top" (and possibly on the goofy side), I think a cigarette lighter would do the trick. I sure hope someone has some alcohol handy.

Are you going for a sort of gag?
Not exactly a gag, to be honest. Think more action film territory. While I don't mind going over the top, I don't want to have people rolling their eyes.

And there's a bottle of vodka in the back seat.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:44 PM   #4
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You'd do a lot of damage with a lighter.. but with one you should be able to heat up something metal, belt buckle maybe, hot enough to do the job.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:05 PM   #5
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Not exactly a gag, to be honest. Think more action film territory. While I don't mind going over the top, I don't want to have people rolling their eyes.

And there's a bottle of vodka in the back seat.
That would be over the top. I can see cauterizing certain wounds, but cauterizing a severed digit? Maybe, but it would have to be the right circumstance to not be a joke. The "wince factor" may help to make it not seem as funny.

An old-fashioned Zippo lighter would be better than a modern disposable butane lighter--those get very hot to hold very quickly.

PSB might have something with the idea of heating up a piece of metal to actually do the job.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:30 PM   #6
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Is the person who has had the finger cut off also doing the cauterizing? Could be a tricky manoeuvre - PSB's idea of heating up a piece of metal would help as the wound could then be pressed onto the metal. Only - would it stick?
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:49 PM   #7
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Do you mean a car cigarette lighter? I think you'd have more luck with that than a zippo.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:02 PM   #8
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I'm wincing either way.

Do cars still have cigarette lighters in the UK? They don't in the US.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:05 PM   #9
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You'd do a lot of damage with a lighter.. but with one you should be able to heat up something metal, belt buckle maybe, hot enough to do the job.
Good idea. I didn't think of heating anything else.

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Is the person who has had the finger cut off also doing the cauterizing? Could be a tricky manoeuvre - PSB's idea of heating up a piece of metal would help as the wound could then be pressed onto the metal. Only - would it stick?
There's another character in the scene who does the job. They're in the middle of nowhere with no chance of help.

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Do you mean a car cigarette lighter? I think you'd have more luck with that than a zippo.
Yeah, a car fag lighter. Which leads to another question - how long does it take one to heat up?
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:06 PM   #10
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Do cars still have cigarette lighters in the UK? They don't in the US.
It's an alternate world situation which gives me a bit of wiggle room.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:07 PM   #11
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It only takes a few seconds for a car lighter (about ten seconds or so).
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:10 PM   #12
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It only takes a few seconds for a car lighter (about ten seconds or so).
Cool. That helps as time is a factor.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:11 PM   #13
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By the way, as someone who almost cut his little finger off one time, there can strangely be a lack of pain to it under the right circumstances. There is a lot of blood however. The little finger on my left hand is still bigger than the one of my right because of the accident. :-)
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:13 PM   #14
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Cool. That helps as time is a factor.
The heat wouldn't last long, but I would think just applying it once would be enough.

I'm no medical expert however.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:15 PM   #15
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Oddly enough, both my dad and one of my uncles have had finger accidents. My dad is missing the top half of one of his middle fingers, and my uncle lost the top quarter of his wedding ring finger and most of the middle one.

They were both engineers in the seventies. I'm guessing they should have tried different jobs.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:18 PM   #16
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When I was a kid it used to be common to see people with missing digits due to factory and farm accidents. Everyone knew at least one person who had gotten his arm caught in a piece of farm machinery some time in their life.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:20 PM   #17
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Most fun thread ever.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:22 PM   #18
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Except for the wincing. The thought of applying a cigarette lighter to a finger stump isn't very pleasant, but then the Terminator plucked out his own eyeball.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:03 PM   #19
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Ouch! What about holding his hand high in the air?

That may bugger up his handkerchief and shirt sleeve but it would be a lot less painful than ramming the stump into the cigare....Jees...Bufty rushes off-stage doing a lot of tooth-sucking!

Good luck, Seun.


By-the-by, you could check it if you wanted to - get the car started, plug the lighter in, quick flick over your pinkie with one of those quick potato-peeler things, then... damn, where's the bucket again?
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:25 PM   #20
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Ouch! What about holding his hand high in the air?
Sadly, not practical for the plot. He needs to be on the move as soon as the wound is dealt with. I'm thinking treat the wound as best they can, wrap it in a bandage, have a few swigs of vodka and get going.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:31 PM   #21
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I agree with Bufty. A car cigarette would cool before it would do anything except hurt a lot. The bottle of vodka, raising the hand, and using direct pressure would be more effective and it would hurt much, much less.

If you are trying to make the character look like a ccomplete idiot, then the cigarette lighter would do the trick, especially after the third try, when the finger would be beyond pain but still be bleeding, because the lighter cooled so fast.

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Old 01-05-2013, 07:02 PM   #22
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Could he not just tie the wound off with something? A strip of material? It's not as badass, of course. In fact, it's not badass at all.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:34 PM   #23
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I tend to think the rule of cool trumps realism in cases like this. I'd buy it. I'd wince, but I'd buy it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:37 PM   #24
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If I had a car cigarette lighter I would test this for seun. I'd take a link sausage and stick the lighter to it and see how much it seared.

Then I'd eat the sausage! :-)
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:22 PM   #25
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I think my car has a cigarette lighter - I rather like the sausage idea. Might try it tomorrow!
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