Don't Be Buried Alive
From time to time we are horrified by learning that some person has been
buried alive, after assurances have been given of death. Under these
circumstances the opinion of a rising French physician upon the subject
becomes of world-wide interest, for since the tests which have been in
use for years have been found unreliable no means should be left untried
to prove beyond a doubt that life is actually extinct before conveying
our loved ones to the grave.
Dr. Martinot, as reported in the New York Journal, asserts that an
unfailing test may be made by producing a blister on the hand or foot of
the body by holding the flame of a candle to the same for a few seconds,
or until the blister is formed which will always occur. If the blister
contains any fluid it is evidence of life, and the blister only that
produced by an ordinary burn. If, on the contrary, the blister contains
only steam, it may be asserted that life is extinct. The explanation is
A corpse, says Dr. Martinot, is nothing more than inert matter, under
the immediate control of physical laws which cause all liquid heated to
a certain temperature to become steam; the epidermis is raised, the
blister produced; it breaks with a little noise, and the steam escapes.
But if, in spite of all appearances, there is any remnant of life, the
organic mechanism continues to be governed by physiological laws, and
the blister will contain serous matter, as in the case of any ordinary
The test is as simple as the proof is conclusive. Dry blister: death.
Liquid blister: life. Any one may try it; there is no error possible.