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First aid guide

What do you do in an emergency? For starters, don’t panic, and keep a clear head. To know what to do next, read our guide for some common emergency situations, writes Sai Raje.

health and fitness Updated: Apr 29, 2008 01:45 IST
Sai Raje

How many of us know precisely what needs to be done if someone around us, a friend, family member or even a stranger on the street, is in a life-threatening situation? Besides nervously hollering for help, that is. Knowing what to do in an emergency is very important as the administering the right first aid, as soon as possible, can make the crucial difference between life and death for the patient.

So listed here are five serious emergencies with instructions from medical experts telling you how to act until a doctor takes over. You never know when this knowledge may come handy; after all, emergencies always strike
without warning.

There are two types of burns: those caused by contact with fire, scalding by boiling water or an electric shock and others that are caused by harmful chemicals coming in contact with your skin.

“Chemical burns are not as common and mostly occur only in industries. But many fire and scalded burns take place often in our homes. The degree of every burn differs, depending on which layers of the skin are damaged,” says Dr Shilpa Karnik, medical officer, National Burns Centre, Airoli.

What can you do to help?

Reassure the patient. Hold the burn injury under running water until pain subsides. If it’s a major body burn, splash bucketfuls of water over the person.
* Do not cover the burn with a blanket. It will trap the heat within and continue to damage deeper layers of the skin.
* Do not try and remove clothes of the person, especially if they are sticking to the burned skin.
* Do not touch any blisters that may appear on the skin.
Blisters are a sign that the skin is still alive and will
heal quickly.
* Do not apply any ointment or substance like ghee, oil, or ink on the burn injury.
* Do not offer the patient anything to eat.
* Offer a drink of water.
* Gently remove jewellery and wristwatches from the patient’s body before any swelling of the skin occurs.
* Cover burn with clean sheet of cloth.
* Call your family physician in case of a minor burn and a hospital in case of a major burn so that adequate arrangements are ready when the patient is transported to the hospital or clinic.

For electric burns:

* Switch off the main electricity supply.
* Do not pour water over the patient but pour sand instead.
* An electric burn always has entry and exit wounds, i.e, points where the electric current entered and exited the body. Cover these with a clean sheet of cloth.

Burns helpline number: 022-27641111.