Quick fixes for summer’s first aid challenges
At the beach, in the park or even just hanging out in your backyard, warm weather is all about fun in the sun — that is, until someone gets hurt. Here’s how to treat those common summertime injuries:
Cuts and scrapes
No need to dig out the hydrogen peroxide. All you need is clean water (to rinse the wound) and a little soap (to clean the skin around the cut); anything stronger can cause irritation. Skip the antibiotic ointment, too: Exposure to fresh air is the quickest way to allow wounds to dry and heal (any creams will keep it moist). If the scrape is in a spot that will easily get dirty (like your hand) or rubbed by clothing (like your knee), cover it with a bandage; otherwise, leave it be.
All that pain is from the little bugger jabbing a barbed stinger with an attached venom sac into your skin. Pocket the tweezers (which may end up squeezing out more venom) and instead use your clean fingernail or the edge of a credit card to scrape the stinger out. Wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice or a cold compress to relieve pain and reduce swelling. If you become flushed, your breathing gets difficult, your throat tightens or you start vomiting, call 911. Those are symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, which could be fatal.
Poison ivy rash
The itchiness, redness and swelling is caused by an oily substance called urushiol, found in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. The blistery rash typically clears on its own in two to four weeks. In the meantime, try an oatmeal bath, cool compresses, calamine lotion or an over-the-counter cream. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid or antibiotic.
Going for a run under the noon sun may be a bad combo: Heat exhaustion happens when your body can’t keep itself cool. Symptoms often begin suddenly, and may include nausea, headaches, cramps, feeling faint or dizzy, or a rapid heartbeat. Get out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned spot right away. Loosen any tight clothing, drink a cool non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage, and fan or spray yourself with cool water. Ignore the symptoms and finish your run, and exhaustion may progress to a potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
About 3,500 Americans die in drowning accidents every year, but consider this: just a few hours of your time could save a life. The American Heart Association recommends conventional CPR for drowning victims—that’s the kind that includes both chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing. A 911 dispatcher can walk you through how to do it until emergency services arrives, or you could take a training class and be better prepared to help a loved one or a stranger. (Hands-only CPR is recommended for adults who suddenly collapse). To find a conventional CPR training class (or to see a Hands-Only CPR demonstration video), go to heart.org/cpr.
The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show. Check http://www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.