Basic First Aid for Common Injuries
With spring in full swing and temperatures rising, people are heading outside to hike, swim, garden, and catch up on all the outdoor adventures they missed during last year’s lockdowns. All this activity means that injuries are bound to occur. However, with the right knowledge and supplies, you can be prepared to administer basic first aid to whoever needs it. Below you’ll find tips on how to treat the most common springtime injuries.
Cuts and Scrapes
It may seem easy to ignore a simple cut or scrape, but don’t. These small injuries are often gateways to severe, painful infections. Out of precaution, every cut and scrape should be treated. Start by washing your hands. Then apply gentle pressure to stop any bleeding. After that, clean around the wound with soap and water. Remove any debris that remains in the wound with running water or tweezers, then apply an antibiotic ointment. If the cut or scrape has depth, cover it with a clean bandage.
If a cut is very deep or bleeding doesn’t stop after several minutes, keep pressure on the wound and seek treatment at an urgent care clinic.
Sprains and Broken Bones
Sprained joints and broken bones should always be evaluated by a doctor. In the meantime, you can apply basic first aid to stabilize the injury and prevent further harm. This is especially important if you’re in a remote area and can’t get to a doctor right away.
Start by using a simple splint to keep the injured limb from moving. The splint should be firm but not too tight. Then gently elevate the injured limb above the heart. Apply ice or a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to reduce pain and swelling. Wrapping a sprained joint with a compression bandage can further reduce pain and increase stability. If the injured limb looks bent or misshapen, don’t try to straighten it. Let a doctor handle that part.
Poison Ivy Rash
Poison ivy is a green or reddish-green plant with three leaves grouped together on each leaf stem. It grows either as a climbing vine or a low shrub in wooded areas across the U.S. The leaves contain an oil called urushiol, which produces an itchy, blister-filled rash on the skin within days or hours of contact. Gardeners and landscapers often encounter it while cleaning up overgrown lawns and flower beds. And they don’t even have to touch the plant itself to get a rash. Just touching a glove or gardening tool that has urushiol on it can cause a breakout.
To relieve the itching, apply a cool compress or some calamine gel. Washing the entire body with dishwashing liquid and very warm water can remove any lingering urushiol and reduce irritation. If the rash is severe, seek a doctor for a high-potency steroid cream, pill, or injection.
Remember: If you see leaves of three, leave them be!
Dehydration and Sunburn
Warmer weather means more risk of people becoming dehydrated and sunburnt. For both of these conditions, it is vital to first get the injured person out of the sun and into a cool, shady place. To soothe sunburn, apply an aloe vera lotion or burn relief gel to the skin. A cool bath and a dose of ibuprofen can help relieve the pain as well. A dehydrated person should slowly sip water and eat fluid-filled foods (like watermelon or cucumber) until their symptoms pass. Call a doctor if they develop a fever or confusion.
Want to be even more prepared for springtime emergencies? Order our First Aid Pocket Guide.