A gentle reminder that beautiful Autumn is here, falling leaves and a slight chill in the air are the usual indicators. So what does this mean? Thoughts such as late sunrises and early sunsets, and cooler darker days ahead no doubt come to mind. Though it's not all doom and gloom till next spring, far from it.
It's a time to look forward to many exciting events and festivals that always provide a good reason to celebrate with the occasional tipple or two. Now let's see what's Autumn holds in store for us.
The first major festival in Autumn is Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. It is then soon followed by Halloween at the end of October, Guy Fawkes night (AKA Bon fire night), early November, and as we head deeper into autumn the excitement of Christmas festivities and New Year inch closer. There is plenty to look forward to.
All being well such festivities are for everyone to enjoy, have a laugh and spend quality time with family and friends. However, one thing we’d all love to avoid are the occasional mishaps.
Watch out damp pavements ahead!
Let's begin with slips and trips, and its consequences. It goes without saying to minimise the dangers of a fall, slip or a trip, one has to be cautious during the damp months that follow. What compound the problems are the Halloween costumes, especially face masks or a piece of head gear resembling your favourite monster. Adding an element of fun may restrict vision, especially during the evenings when trick or treat activities are at their height. Just airing on the cautious side here, and is by no way intended to take away the fun out of traditional Halloween activities. After all kids should be allowed to be kids and the odd minor injury is all part of… well being a kid.
However, if one ever comes across such an unfortunate predicament resulting in a cut, bruise or something more serious like a fracture or a head injury of some sort read on for more handy first aid tips ahead.
So what do we need to be cautious about?
Wounds or Cuts
Bruises, Sprains or Strains
Fractures or Dislocation
Head injuries or Concussion
Burns and Scalds
Lets begin with Cuts or Wounds
A cut or a wound is an injury to a skin varying in classification based on the cause of an injury, and can become infected if not treated correctly.
You’ll find detailed descriptions by selecting the wound types below:
So how do we treat a wound or a cut?
Here the priority is to reduce blood loss, minimise infection and potentially treat for shock.
1. First try to control the bleed by applying direct pressure to the wound using a clean, non fluffy sterile dressing. If there is an embedded object apply pressure either side.
2. Consider elevating the wound only if it doesn't cause more pain, discomfort, or any further damage to the cut or wound.
3. Sit or lay the casualty depending on the location of the cut/wound. If the bleeding is severe, treat for the prevention of shock by laying the casualty down and elevating the leg, keeping the casualty warm.
4. If the bleeding continues through the first dressing apply another one on top. If need apply new dressings, ensuring pressure is directly maintained over the wound.
Did you know? An average adult has around 1 pint of blood per stone in body weight.
It's only a bruise, sprain or strain you say - it'll still cause discomfort or worse, pain
Next on the list potentially resulting from a slip of a fall are bruises, sprains or strains. Bruises, sprains or strains are injuries to the soft tissues. A sprain is a tear of the ligaments around the joint whilst a strain is a tear of the muscles or tendon. Pain, inflammation, swelling, tenderness or an inability to move the affected area are generally how such injuries can be recognised.
Heard of the RICE method? Not the kind served with a curry
The acronym RICE stands for:
R-Rest, I-Ice, C-Compress, E-Elevate
The aim of the RICE treatment is to reduce swelling and the associated pain as quickly as possible.
R - Rest the injured part
I - Apply an ice pack or cold compress
C- Compress by bandaging the injuries location firmly
E- Elevate the injuries part
Now fractures or dislocation on the other hand will cause severe pain
Did you know? There are 206 bones making up the human skeleton.
The purpose of a skeleton is to protect the vital organs and act as a framework for the soft tissues, joints, muscle, tendons and ligaments. Bones are relatively difficult to break (fracture). Bones can break as a result of direct force (struck by a heavy blow) or by indirect force (a twisting movement).
The fracture may be classed as closed where the skin isn’t punctured or open where its pierced the skin, creating a wound.
A dislocation occurs when two halves of a joint are separated and are extremely painful. The extreme pain is a result of a bone displaced out of its joint. Joints are found in the knee, fingers, vertebrae, shoulder and jaw. Under no circumstances a first aider should attempt to pop the joint back on to the position.
Pain at the site of an injury, irregularity, deformity, swelling, bruising, difficulty in moving the limb or the term used in first aid Crepitus (grinding of the bone ends where broken) is how fractures or dislocations are recognised.
So how is it treated?
1. The first thing to do is immobilise and support the injured limb in the most comfortable position, with or without the aid of a sling or bandages.
2. The next step is to monitor the casualty and if necessary treat to prevent shock.
3. Finally summon an ambulance in an emergency or visit the hospital for further treatment.
A bang on the head is definitely a cause for concern
One of the most common injuries resulting from a trip or a fall are head injuries. Head injuries are a concern as they can potentially be very serious leading to the casualty becoming unresponsive. Concussion or skull fracture are the obvious injuries come to mind. Another serious head injury to mention is Cerebral Compression.
Feeling dizzy are we? Recognise and treat concussion
A concussion is caused when a person’s brain is shaken within the skull by a blow or a bang to a head is the best way to describe the injury. Typically, the casualty will lose responsiveness briefly leading to short term memory loss of the event that caused the injury, but then should make full recovery. Always be aware of a potential spinal injury.
Nausea, mild headache, dizziness, brief loss of memory or responsiveness is how one can recognise concussion.
Should you find yourself in position where the casualty is unresponsive, immediately place them in the recovery position. Call the emergency services and monitor breathing and response levels. Treat the casualty for CPR if they remain unresponsive and not breathing properly.
Crack - the dangers of a skull fracture
The skull protects the brain which is attached to the spinal cord. Any injury to the skull can affect our central nervous system (CNS). The CNS controls important functions such as breathing, regulating body temperature and blood circulation. Any damage caused by an injury to the head can affect these vital functions.
Ways to recognise a potential skull fracture:
- Confusing or strange behaviour
- Blood or clear fluid leaking from the ears and/or nose
- Impaired levels of responsiveness
- Wound to the skull
To treat a skull fracture:
1. Sit the casualty in a comfortable position
2. Treat any wounds, bleeds or fluid loss
3. If there is any swelling use a cold compress and monitor the casualty for signs of deterioration
4. Call the emergency services and be prepared to place the casualty in the recovery position or commence CPR.
What is a Cerebral Compression who may wonder?
The most serious head injury you may may come across is cerebral compression. This is where pressure builds up on the brain within the skull as a result of internal bleeding, swelling of the brain tissue or infection. Compression may occur directly after a blow to the head or it may take several days to develop.
Recognising Cerebral Compression?
There are various indicators to recognise cerebral compression. Although at first it may not be obvious look carefully look out for any evidence to the head. Other tell tale signs could include:
- Deteriorating levels of response
- Intense headache
- Noisy slow breathing
- Strong slow pulse
- High temperature
- Unequal pupil size
- Change in personality or behaviour
Advice on treating the casualty
If the casualty is responsive lay them down and support their head and shoulders and dial 999/112 calling for the emergency services. If the casualty is unresponsive, manage their airway in the position they were found to minimise potential injury to the spine any further.
Be prepared to resuscitate (CPR) if the casualty is stops breathing.
Ouch it burns…
Diwali and bonfire nights are great. Fireworks are seen and heard (and the dogs howling) for miles, usually for the duration of the evening. Fun times for the majority you may admit, though not for the poor howling dogs. Fireworks scare the hell out of them and too right it would if one unfortunately comes into direct contact.
Although care is taken during Diwali or bon fire night celebrations, fire works are a major hazard and given the potential it could cause, burns are a consequence if handled incorrectly to state the obvious.
Sadly, it'll be more than a case of 'ouch it burns'. You'd count yourself lucky if its just a minor burn. In such a case noting works better than running it under cold water for 10 mins or applying a burns gel. Now a major burn is a different proposition. This no doubt will require hospital treatment. Further detailed information about various burn injuries and treatment advice can be found HERE.
Want some practical experience in learning how to deal with any first aid related injuries? Visit us at our training facility on the available open Emergency First Aid at Work or the advanced First Aid at Work course dates.
Disclaimer: please note the advice given is recommended in line with the latest first aid protocols and by no means should be used against further guidance from a specialist consultant or a doctor.