After witnessing a freak accident recently that required bystanders and witnesses to get involved I thought it would be helpful to remind readers of some of the basics of ‘first aid’.
*In the case of a burn – cool the burned area with cool running water for several minutes if it happens at home. Be sure not to spray burns with high pressure – simply let the water run over the burned area for as long as you can. Minor burns can be cooled with tap water over the sink. Don’t be afraid to rinse bigger burns with a hose outside. Do not use ice to cool a burn because it can cause frostbite. Of course, with serious burn injuries the best policy is to seek medical attention immediately.
*Bleeding must be controlled – otherwise it may lead to shock or even death. Surprisingly, most bleeding can be stopped before an ambulance has time to arrive at the scene. While you’re performing the steps for controlling bleeding, however, you should also be calling for an ambulance to respond.
The first step in controlling a bleeding wound is to ‘plug the hole’ so the wound can begin to clot – both as a first step in the healing process and bringing the bleeding to an end. Flowing blood will not coagulate. Put pressure directly on the wound using gauze if you have it. Whatever you use – perhaps terrycloth towels – do not remove the towel if the blood soaks through – only add another layer. Peeling a blood soaked bandage of any sort off a wound removes vital clotting agents and encourages bleeding to resume.
*Finally, if a bone is broken then stabilize it but Do NOT straighten the extremity if it is deformed. Use padding to keep it immobile. Then put ice on the injury – but not directly on the skin – put it in a bag first. Finally, elevate the extremity to reduce swelling and call for emergency services.
Basic first aid classes are readily available from many different sources in our community. Taking CPR and basic first aid can be invaluable after a serious accident.
Greg Baumgartner is a car wreck attorney in Houston and can be reached at 281-587-1111.