HEALTH · MEDWED with Mimi.



So I figured that knowing the right response and immediate management of some common domestic accidents will go a long way in saving lives and preventing long-term damages to health hence my inspiration to write about First aid this week.

From scary looking major burns to minor scalds, all of us have experienced what it feels like to be burned at one point or the other. Whether you knew it then or not, your immediate response went a long way in determining how quickly the injury healed, if it got infected or it left a scar.

A burn is a type of injury to skin or other tissues caused by heat (thermal), electricity, chemicals, friction or radiation.

Thermal burns are those caused by fire and hot liquids. Scalding is a type of thermal burn, caused by hot liquids or gases and most commonly occurs from exposure to hot drinks, high temperature tap water in baths or showers, hot cooking oil or steam.

Chemical burns can be caused by over 25,000 substances, most of which are either a strong base (55%) or a strong acid (26%). Most chemical burn deaths are secondary to ingestion. Common agents include; sulfuric acid as found in toilet cleaners, sodium hypochlorite as found in bleach, and halogenated hydrocarbons as found in paint remover, among others.

Electrical burns or injuries are classified as high voltage (greater than or equal to 1000 volts), low voltage (less than 1000 volts) or as flash burns secondary to an electrical arc. Lightning may also result in electrical burns.

Radiation burns may be caused by protracted exposure to ultraviolet light (such as from the sun, tanning booths or arc welding) or from ionising radiation (such as X-rays).

There are also non accidental burns which are due to various reasons such as; child abuse, personal disputes, spousal abuse, elder abuse and business disputes.

NOTE: An immersion injury or immersion scald may indicate child abuse. It is created when an extremity or the lower body (buttock or perineum) is held under the surface of hot water. It typically produces a sharp upper border and is often symmetrical.

Burns can be classified based on the depth and extent of spread as;

1. First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin. They cause pain, redness, and swelling.

2. Second-degree burns affect both the outer and underlying layer of skin. They cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering. They are also called partial thickness burns.

3. Third-degree burns affect the deep layers of skin. They are also called full thickness burns. They cause white or blackened, burned skin. The skin may be numb.

Burns can also be grouped into; 
1). Minor burns:
•First degree burns anywhere on the body
•Second degree burns less than 2-3 inches wide


2). Major burns:
•Third-degree burns
•Second-degree burns more than 2-3 inches wide
•Second-degree burns on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint. 

It is possible to have more than one type of burn at the same time.

Before giving first aid, it is important to determine the type of burn the person has. If you aren’t sure, treat it as a major burn. For major burns, contact a health care centre as soon as you can.

If the skin is unbroken;
•Run cool water over the area of the burn or soak it in a cool water bath (not ice water). Keep the area under water for at least 5 minutes. A clean, cold, wet towel can also help reduce pain.
•Calm and reassure the person.
•After flushing or soaking the burn, cover it with a dry, sterile bandage or clean dressing.
•Protect the burn from pressure and friction.
•Over-the-counter analgesics can help relieve pain and swelling. •Once the skin has cooled, moisturising lotion also can applied.

Minor burns will usually heal without further treatment. Make sure the person is up to date on tetanus immunisation.

If someone is on fire, tell the person to stop, drop, and roll. Then you should follow these steps;

• Wrap the person in thick material; such as a wool or cotton coat, rug, or blanket. This helps put out the flames.
• Pour water on the person.
• Call a local emergency number.
• Make sure that the person is no longer touching any burning or smoking materials.
• Make sure the person is breathing.
• Cover the burn area with a dry sterile bandage (if available) or clean cloth.
• If fingers or toes have been burned, separate them with dry, sterile, non-sticky bandage.
• Raise the body part that is burned above the level of the heart.
• Protect the burn area from pressure and friction.
• If an electrical injury may have caused the burn, DO NOT touch the victim directly. Use a non-metallic object to move the person away from exposed wires before starting first aid.

It’s equally important to know the things not to do in the case of a burn accident…

DO NOT apply ointment, butter, ice, medications, cream, oil spray, or any household remedy to a severe burn.   
DO NOT breathe, blow, or cough on the burn.
DO NOT disturb blistered or dead skin.   
DO NOT remove clothing that is stuck to the skin.
DO NOT give the person anything by mouth, if there is a severe burn.
DO NOT place a severe burn in cold water. This can cause shock.
DO NOT place a pillow under the person’s head if there is an airways burn as this can close the airways.

Regarding the topical treatment of injuries, someone once told me, “If you can’t put it in your eyes, don’t put it in the wound.” Therefore, it’s very important to be mindful of what we apply and how we treat wounds, especially in the early stages. It goes a long way in determining the eventual outcome of the wound. Finally as the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”, it is always wiser to take the necessary precautions to prevent burn accidents. 

• Install smoke alarms in your home. Check and change batteries regularly.
• Teach children about fire safety and the hazards of matches and fireworks.
• Keep children from climbing on top of a stove or grabbing hot items like irons and oven doors.
• Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so that children cannot grab them and they cannot accidentally be knocked over.
• Place fire extinguishers in key locations at home, work, and school. • Remove electrical cords from floors and keep them out of reach.
• Know about and practice fire escape routes at home, work, and school.
• Set the water heater temperature at 120 degrees or less.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to drop them below. Till next week, keep calm and stay healthy!


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