Home First Aid—How Prepared Are You?
WOULD you know what to do if one of your loved ones were injured? There are many situations where prompt action can prevent much pain and even save a life. Listed below are some first-aid procedures that you can take. Check your preparedness:
✔ CUTS—If someone receives a serious cut, immediately press a thick pad of clean cloth over it, holding it down with your palm. If blood soaks through this cloth, do not remove it (that would disturb helpful blood clots that may have formed) but put additional layers of clean cloth on top of the old and continue the direct hand pressure even more firmly. Elevating a wounded arm, leg or neck (raising it above the level of the victim’s heart) helps to reduce blood pressure in the injured area and slows the loss of blood. Tourniquets are no longer recommended, as they can cause severe damage to tissues.
✔ BURNS—For a burn that turns the skin red (a first- or second-degree burn) submerge the burned area in cold running water (not ice water) or apply clean cloths that have been wrung out in ice water. Do not be in a hurry to take the burned area out of the water; it is recommended that it be left there for an hour or more. Then blot it dry gently and cover it with a clean cloth as a protective bandage. On a severe burn, avoid using an antiseptic preparation, ointment or salve, or home remedy. If the burn is one that chars or blackens the skin (a third-degree burn), do not put water or anything else on it; it is usually best to get the victim to the hospital as soon as possible.
An alkali burn to the eye (caused by drain cleaner, strong laundry or dishwater detergent or other cleaning solution) is extremely dangerous, as eye tissues may be destroyed and thus sight can be lost. As with other eye burns, flood the eye thoroughly with water for fifteen minutes. This is best done by having the victim turn his head to the side; then, holding the lids of the eye open, pour the water from the inner corner of the eye outward. After this you should remove any loose particles of dry chemicals left on the eye by lifting them off carefully with the corner of a clean handkerchief.
✔ POISONS—Unfortunately in most homes there are many poisons that a small child may be able to eat or drink. Some of these are gasoline, paint, detergents and cleaning solutions. What should you do if you find that your child has swallowed one of these? Unless the child is having convulsions or is unconscious, the first thing to do is to give him water or milk to dilute the poison. Now you must decide whether to induce vomiting or not. With certain strong poisons this should not be done, as they will cause further burns to the already burned air and food passages. Some of these are strong acid (as toilet-bowl cleaner), strong alkali (as drain cleaner) or any petroleum product (as furniture polish).
When vomiting is desirable, you can induce it by tickling the back of the child’s throat or by giving him a nauseating fluid such as milk of magnesia and water or mustard and water.
✔ SPRAINS AND STRAINS—A sprain is an injury to the soft tissue around a joint, whereas a strain results from overexerting a muscle, for example, stretching or tearing a back muscle by improperly lifting something.
Usually a sprain occurs to the ankles, fingers, wrists or knees. The area swells and is painful if any motion is attempted. In the case of a knee or ankle sprain, first aid requires that you get the victim off his feet and wrap the injured area in a pillow and elevate it. (It is good to keep the injured part raised for at least twenty-four hours.) In all cases it is recommended to apply cold wet packs or to place a small bag of crushed ice on the afflicted area (keeping a cloth between the ice and the arm or the leg). Do not soak the limb in either hot water or ice water.
The best treatment for a back strain is bed rest, heat and a board under the mattress for firm support. Heat and warm wet applications are helpful on other strains.
An often-forgotten “first” in first aid is giving a few well-selected words of encouragement and comfort. Keeping your injured loved one calm is often one of the best aids you can provide until you can get to a doctor.