First aid basics
Its important to have a good understanding of first aid basics. There may come a time when someone you love or you yourself are injured and medical attention is required. This content is meant to cover the basics. Read it over. Its old info for some. If others find anything new or informative in it, they would do well to remember it.
If someone around you suddenly collapses do you know what to do? CPR is a valuable skill everyone should take the time to learn. First check the person by gently shaking them and shouting “are you okay” to see if they are responsive. If no response is given place your pointer finger and middle finger under the chin and lift up gently. This opens up the airways. If no neck injury is suspected tilt their head back also. Once the airway is open pinch their nose, inhale, lock mouth to mouth with an airtight seal and give two breaths of air. Ensure that their chest rises. If not lift the chin and try again.
Here is where it can get physically demanding for some. Place the palm of your hands on their sternum directly between the nipples. Interlock your fingers keeping them off the chest, straighten your arms and bring your shoulders straight down pushing hard and fast. You need to complete 30 of these compression’s every 2 breaths. If an able body is near and you feel that you’re getting tired, switch places.
Cuts and abrasions
Thoroughly clean (don’t scrub) the wound with your choice of disinfectant and a gauze pad. Scrubbing can cause more damage. Wrap one of the adhesive bandages around the wound. If the blood flow is serious (deep cut) apply enough pressure to stop the blood flow and quickly wrap the wound. When the layers becomes soaked with blood, rather than remove the bandages, add more layers. If you can, keep the wound elevated above the heart to slow the bleeding.
Your extremities and their extensions are the most common bones to break. Arms, fingers legs and toes. This guide is a basic one. For broken noses, eye sockets, ribs cracked skulls and more please find a more comprehensive first aid guide.
If any wounds are present you want to clean them first and ensure the bleeding stops.
Make a splint for leg breaks. Find two lengthy, sturdy objects and put them on either side of the leg. Wrap it firmly (duct tape works) to stabilize the leg and keep it from moving or shifting. Let it set, rest and heal.
Broken arms require a sling. If you are lacking a medical Sling make your own. Acquire a large piece of cloth from something such as a t-shirt or pillowcase and fold it into a triangle. Place the person’s elbow at the top of the triangle, and the wrist midway along the triangle’s bottom edge.
Everyone has been burned at one time in their life. Maybe you have that match a little too long when trying to light a candle or something more severe. First and second degree burns can usually be treated on your own and are considered minor. If you ever suffer a third degree burn there isn’t a lot you can do at home.
You need to determine the burn degree before treating it. A first degree burn will be red and may swell. It damages the outermost layer of skin only, and there may be some pain and discomfort for the victim. Second degree burn damages will not only destroy the outermost layer of skin tissue but also damage the second layer of skin. The area will be very red, exhibit swelling, be covered by blisters and extremely painful.
Treating 1st and 2nd degree burns is pretty straightforward. First, Run cool (never cold) water over the burn site for 10 to 15 minutes. If you have no access to running water submerge the affected area in a tub or bucket of cool water. After the burn had cooled wrap the wound with a sterile gauze. Give it a burn victim an over the counter pain reliever of his or her choice. Never pop any blisters, apply ice, butter or ointments to the wound. This may cause extended damage to the skin tissue or cause the wound to become infected.
Third degree burns are severe and there isn’t a whole lot that can be done. The burns move entirely through all of the skin tissue and can even extend to the bone. The burn marks are notated by either charred black or pearly white skin.
As mentioned there is not a whole lot you can do. Third degree burns require emergency medical care, not first aid care. Third degree burn victims can not regrow skin cells without a skin graft surgery.
Severe allergic reaction treatment first aid basics
Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) can many times be life threatening. Symptoms of Anaphylaxis often include a sudden drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, hives, itching, weak and rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, unconsciousness or shock. Severe reactions require professional medical attention. If possible, call for an ambulance.
Epi pens are issued to people who are aware that they have severe allergies. The pen injects epinephrine to counteract and relieve the allergic reaction. If they are suffering from Anaphylaxis and have a pen, inject it into their thigh muscle. Over-the-counter antihistamines work far too slowly to help and a severe allergic reaction. Do not give the victim water.
Unless the victim is going to vomit have the person lay on their back. If vomiting it’s a risk have them lay on their side so they do not choke. Make sure the victim is breathing. If the person is not, immediately start CPR. If the throat is constricted mouth to mouth isn’t necessary as they wouldn’t receive any air. Interlock your fingers, straighten your arms and perform 100 compression’s per minute.
If emergency services can help they will continue to monitor the patient even if he feels fine for some time after the incident. If not, continue to keep a close eye on the victim. Ensure they continue breathing. Check their pulse and if possible monitor their blood pressure.
If someone is lacking the proper amount of blood or oxygen to the vital organs or brain, they are in shock. Shock, if not treated may lead to long-term organ damage or even death. Symptoms to look out for are cold skin, dilated pupils, nausea, slow or fast heart rate and unconsciousness. To treat shock have the person lie flat on their back and have their feet elevated 1 foot above their head. This creates a stronger blood flow from the lower extremities to the vital organs. Hopefully the person is still moving, coughing and breathing. These are signs that circulation is still happening.
If the person is not breathing, immediately start CPR. Loosen tight or constricting clothing and keep the person warm with blankets or extra clothing. If the person says they are going to vomit roll them on their side to prevent choking. Check for and treat any other injuries that may be present. Avoid giving the victim any food and water.
Treating heat stroke
Heat stroke victims easily fall prey to heatstroke when working outside in hot temperatures. Overweight, elderly and children are at greater risk of suffering from heatstroke. The primary symptom of heat stroke is a very high body temperature (104 degrees or higher). Other symptoms include headache, rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, nausea and fainting.
Factors that heighten your chances of suffering from heatstroke are heart disease, dehydration and taking medications that limit your ability to sweat.
Move the heat stroke victim to a shady area or indoors if possible. Try to have the victim drink non caffeinated, non alcoholic cold drink. cool the victim down moist clothes and cloths. Fan the person manually or within a motorized fan if available. Ensure the person rests for the next 24 hours. Monitor their temperature to make sure it does not rise.
Frost bite victims fall prey to frostbite in very cold temperatures. Usually frostbite occurs in the extremities, the hands and feet. Frostbite is also common in the ears and nose. The quicker frostbite is treated the better odds the victim has of a healthy recovery. The tissues of the area become frozen, may feel hard and look a very waxy yellowish white.
If you suspect frostbite and are still outside, find or make shelter as soon as possible. You need to get out of the cold and wind until you warm up. If your hands are frost bitten, warm them by placing them under your armpits. If your feet are frostbitten put some extra socks on or wrap bits of cloth around them and then put your boots back on.
Remove all of your wet clothing from your body and run warm water over the frost bitten areas. Slowly increase the water temperature. Frostbitten areas are numb to the touch and hot water may burn you while leaving you unaware. Next wrap the areas frostbitten, and keep them as warm as possible. Do not walk around on frostbitten feet, as this may cause further tissue damage.
When two bones become separated at the joint then joint dislocation has happened. Dislocations most commonly occur in the shoulder, knee or elbow. Fingers and toes are also susceptible to dislocating. Instant trauma, such as falling or an automobile accident can be the culprit behind joint dislocation. A joint dislocation can be followed by extreme pain depending on the location and severity of the dislocation.
Leave dislocations to be managed by a medical professional whenever one is available. A permanent loss of use may occur if the joint is put back into place in correctly.
Fingers and toes that become dislocated or common and off. Contrary to popular belief, a dislocated finger is no less painful than any other dislocation. Sometimes pulling the affected digit (or even wiggling it around) can pop it back into place. After you are sure the bone is aligned properly put the treated digit in a splint.
Shoulder dislocations are probably the most common of all this locations. To reset a shoulder dislocation have the person take a seat or lay down. Simply rotate the shoulder blade until you feel the joint pop back into place.
Another method is known as the Hennepin maneuver. Have the person take a seat or lay down. Bend their elbow at a 90 degree angle slowly move and rotate the shoulder, invoking muscle spasms. After 10 minutes or so the spasms will reside in with gentle pushes the joint will align and relocate. Wrap the shoulder immediately and stabilize it to keep the person from moving it, otherwise redislocation may happen.
Dislocated elbows can occur, however they are most common in children. Flex the arm and have the forearm rotate, until it is facing up. This may let the elbow pop back into place. Bandage and wrap the elbow immediately.
No matter the site or dislocation, it is important to use the joint again before too long to strengthen not only the joint but the muscles around it.
While some strains require surgery to fix completely such as a full tear, many can be treated easily enough at home. When a sprain occurs there has been damage to the ligaments that keep your joints connected and your bones together. With that said, ligaments are very tough parts of the body but damage can still occur. The two most common sprain sites are in your knees and ankles.
To treat a sprain we remember the first aid basics acronym R.I.C.E.
REST. Rest the limb that was sprained. Try to avoid putting any direct pressure on the limb for 2 days at the very minimum. Using crutches to move around is recommended if the sprain occurred in the knee or ankle.
ICE. Ice the sprain several times a day for the first two days. 15 to 20 minutes tops. Leaving the ice on too long or exposing it to direct bare skin can cause tissue damage so keep something between your skin and the ice.
COMPRESS. Wrap and compress the area with an ace bandage or something similar. Wrapping the area too tightly can reduce blood flow and actually cause more damage.
ELEVATE. Elevate the injured limb above the heart when possible. Doing so reduces blood flow and helps reduce swelling.
Motrin or Tylenol for pain is ok. The sprain should start to heal after a few days. After the third day the person should start to use the body part carefully.
For any animal bite the first thing to do is stop the bleeding. Apply firm pressure with a dry cloth until the bleeding subsides. After the bleeding stops clean the affected area with warm soap and water. Apply an antibiotic cream and bandage. Make sure to change the bandage periodically.
Getting bit by a rabid animal is a bit more serious and time sensitive. You need to determine if an animal is a rabid. Most wild animals avoid humans so if you are able to get close to one it may be a sign that the animal is rabid. Another sign is seeing an animal active when it should be sleeping. An example is the nocturnal raccoon. If you see one of them lumbering around mid afternoon it would be wise to call animal control and report your observations. While rabid animals do not often form at the mouth (think Cujo) saliva production does tend to increase, causing the animal to drool. Acting lethargic or very aggressive are also signs that your local wildlife maybe rabid.
If you think you’ve been bitten by a rabid animal, see your doctor ASAP. Do not wait to seek help. Once humans start showing symptoms from rabies, very few survive. Most animal bites however come from dogs and cats who rarely carry the disease. Animals more common to carry rabies are bats, foxes, raccoon’s and skunks.
We hope this guide covering first aid basics has helped or will help someone some day.
Cover image copyright the United States Navy.
Heatstroke image copyright Flickr User.