First Aid Tips for Common Outdoor Injuries
Families are flocking to the great outdoors because it’s a COVID-19 safe way to play. But it’s not without minor dangers like insect stings, burns and more. Here’s a quick guide to dealing with most common summer and fall injuries.
Camping means campfires, and burns are common. A minor burn is red and tender with minor swelling. To treat it, run cold water over the burned skin to cool the area. Do not use ice as this slows healing. Do not apply grease, butter or ointment as these actually keep the heat in. Apply a bandage after the wound cools down. If a blister forms, keep it intact and do not pop it. A popped blister can let bacteria in and cause infection. Seek immediate medical help for severe burns.
After an insect sting, remove the stinger as quickly as possible to prevent more venom from getting under the skin. Do this by gently scraping horizontally with a credit card or the dull side of a knife. Avoid using tweezers because squeezing the stinger releases more venom. Seek immediate attention if there is difficulty breathing or swelling of the face.
Most tick bites are harmless and do not lead to infection. But when they are infected with certain types of bacteria or parasites, they can spread diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. To remove a tick, use tweezers to grasp it by the head and pull straight up. If the head stays attached to the skin, try removing the entire head either with tweezers or a needle. Seek medical attention if a rash or fever develop in the next two weeks.
Helmets should always be worn when bike riding, but a bump on the head is a common injury when kids are playing. Seek medical attention for the following symptoms: loss of consciousness, vomiting, changes in speech, behavior or gait, changes in vision, confusion and weakness of arms or legs.
Knocked Out Teeth
If a tooth has been completely knocked out, put it in milk and call your dentist’s office. They should have an on-call dentist who can replace the tooth.
Removing a fish hook can be a delicate process if there are one or more barbs on the hook. Never remove the hook yourself if it is in or near your eye or in a bone, joint or deep in a muscle. If the hook is in an eye, cover it with a paper cup, tape in place and seek medical help. For barbed fish hooks in less sensitive areas, and not deep in the skin, there are two methods for removing it. The string yank technique involves tying fishing line to the curve of the hook. While gently pressing the back of the hook eye hook down, pull the string while keeping the line parallel to the shank. Stop if you feel resistance indicating tissue is being torn. The advance and cut technique requires using pliers to advance the hook’s point and barb through the skin following the natural curve of the hook. Use the pliers to cut the hook below the barb. Then back the rest of the hook out of the skin. Wash your hands and the area with the hook before and after removing the hook, and bandage if needed. Know your last Tetanus vaccination. If you are unsure or it has been more than 10 years you should be revaccinated. Seek medical attention for more difficult fish hook injuries.
(Alain Green, FNP-C, is an Urgent Care provider at CHI St. Alexius Health. He provides fast and convenient health care for unexpected illnesses and injuries.)