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Importance of first aid

india Updated: Aug 28, 2012 12:46 IST
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Any emergency can be handled easily with adequate preparation, including a medical one. A well stocked first aid kit, kept within easy reach is a must for every home. Preparing and maintaining a first aid kit is also a great way of teaching kids about safety, though it should be stored well out of their reach.

Robin Age takes us through the uses and components of a first aid kit.

Though readymade first aid kits are available at most medical stores, it is simple to put together one at home. Here's what you need to keep in mind when you make your own first-aid kit.

*Check the expiry date: One of the most important things youneed to keep in mind is that medicines have a shelf life and must be disposed carefully once it goes past the expiry date.

*Store in a dark, cool and dry place: The shelf life of medicines decreases if kept in a humid place. Hence, avoid keeping your first-aid kit in bathrooms or places that are humid or moist. Medicines also need to be kept away from direct sunlight.

*Use appropriate containers: You must ensure that all your first-aid kit supplies are kept in large, water proof and non-breakable containers.

*Organise by function: Segregate each supply according to its usage. Keep wound-tending supplies in one re-sealable bag and medicines that treat ailments in another.

*Share the knowledge: Train everybody in your family onhow to use a first-aid kit as it is very essential that everyone in the family knows how to give basic first aid.

Emergency Do's and Don'ts

The usual medication for fever is paracetamol, but may vary for every individual. If you are travelling and your child catches a fever, it is advisable that you keep tracking his/her temperature. Make sure the child is kept warm enough. Always talk to your doctorand pack the medicine he/she recommends for your children.

If your child has scalded his/her hand, the first point of action is to put the hand undercold running water for a few minutes before applying any lotion or anti-burncream like Burnol. If the burn starts wrinkling and drying, it is advisable to keep it open. It is necessary that you dry out the burnwith a piece of sterilised gauze before you apply any antiseptic or anti-burn cream. Dab at the burn and do not wipe it. In case you do not have a burn-healing ointment, the white of an egg or honey can be used to cover the scald till you see a doctor.

A bleeding wound has to be cleaned with water first and then with an antiseptic solution like Dettol or Savlon. Wipe the wound with a sterilised gauzepad. If the wound needs to be covered, use sterilised bandages and gauze tape. It is necessary that you make sure the wound is clean and dry before you apply an antiseptic cream on it. Betnovate and Soframycin are the commonly used creams, but check with your doctor before you pack them in your first-aid kit.

Nasal blockage
Nasal blockages usually occur when a child has a cold. The only remedy is to make your child drink hot or warm water, steaming as described by the pediatrician or hot water fomentations. Applications of a vaporubmay also help, if your child is not allergic to it.

Sprains can be bad if they are not attended to immediately. If your child suffers a sprained ankleor a sprained wrist, it is important that you massage the injured ankle or wrist with anice pack. Tie a bandage securely around the injury. If there is a break anywhere, it is always useful to hold the broken bone in place by tying a splint on either side of the injured area and holding it there with the help of a bandage till you reach the doctor.

In order to remove a splinter, you need a pair of tweezers, some gauze and an antiseptic liquid. Usually splinters go under the skin or nails by piercing through the skin. You must ensure that the splinter has not pierced the skin too deep before trying to remove it. If you do not see the end ofthe splinter, do not attempt to squeeze the spot where the splinter is set. Trying to remove the splinter forcibly will cause it to break inside the body. In such cases, it's best you let a doctor check it out. After removing the splinter, apply an antiseptic liquid. Do not keep the wound open as this can lead to infection when the wound comes in contact with the bacteria in the surrounding air.

Dr Kshitija Rao, Mumbai has some important instructions regarding providing first aid.

"First-aid should strictly be aid that is given only till a doctor arrives. Moreover, the first-aid provider should make sure he or she is safe while giving first-aid. For example, if you are helping a fire victim, make sure that you are not in the line of fire. Also, call for help. Do not attempt to do everything alone."

An ideal first-aid kit should have:
A pair of gloves
Sterile cotton
Bandages & gauze pieces
A ruler to use as a splint for fractures
Muscle relieving cream or spray
Crepe bandages
A tourniquet to control profuse bleeding
Band-aids for minor cuts
An antibiotic cream like soframycin or betadine
Ice packs

Keeping a first-aid kit in every school or household is very important so that when a problem occurs, precious time is not lost in assembling material. The time between any injury and giving first-aid is the "golden window" period, so that maximum benefit of the first-aid is derived."