Stay well in the heat

High temperatures are forecast for this weekend, making it essential to stay well in the heat and avoid dehydration.

The human body relies on water to maintain a healthy fluid volume and chemical balance.

This is why it’s essential to drink plenty when exercising or in hot weather.

During the festival and holiday season, it’s easy to forget to drink, with all the distractions or simply drink the wrong things.

Alcohol and high caffeine drinks don’t help, in fact they can easily increase you dehydration, leading to serious heat related conditions.

Simple steps to avoid Dehydration

When your body loses more fluid than it takes in you can easily become dehydrated, either from sweating due to heat or exercise, not necessarily just from being in a hot environment.

How will you know you’re becoming dehydrated

  • You’ll be thirsty
  • Your mouth and lips will be dry
  • You may feel dizzy and confused
  • Your urine will be dark coloured
  • You will be passing less urine than normal

What can you do to help?

  • Stop all physical activity
  • You should move to a shady place, ideally in a cool breeze
  • Drink plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and caffeine rich drinks, since these will increase dehydration
  • Loosen and remove any unnecessary clothing
  • Continue to re-hydrate throughout the day possible using re-hydration fluids

If you think you’ve become dehydrated make sure you watch for the signs and symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

and always remember, if you’re in doubt call the NHS helpline 111.

Ambush in the Undergrowth

Ambush in the undergrowth

Spring is when we all start to think about getting out into nature, but be alert for an ambush.

Enjoying long walks in the forest or out across open heath land is a great way to spend time and breathe fresh air.

However, lurking in the undergrowth there is a tiny eight-legged creature waiting to ambush you and your pets.

The tick

The tick is a parasite looking to latch onto a nice healthy blood supply for a meal and they love warm moist bodies.

As you walk through the bracken, they will attach themselves to you, often making their way to scalp, armpits or groin areas.

Once they’ve found their ideal “camp site”, they’ll bite into your skin, injecting a type of local anaesthetic, so you probably won’t feel a thing, then start to feed.

Because they’ll have chosen their feeding ground well, you probably won’t notice them for some time and that’s when the real danger occurs.

Ticks carry a bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which causes Lyme Disease, this usually enters the host after the tick has been attached between 36 and 48 hours.

Lyme Disease is an infectious disease and in its early stages causes, tiredness and fatigue. It can make you feel sick, produce muscle and joint pain with a high temperature, chills and neck stiffness.

Once established, after 3 to 30 days, the site of the bite will develop a distinctive circular “bullseye” rash.

Bulls-eye Rash

Joints will become swollen and painful; the limbs and extremities feel numb and the facial muscles can become paralysed.

Over time, people who have developed Lyme Disease, may well have heart and memory problems.

This is why it’s important to identify tick bites early and get appropriate treatment.

What can you do if bitten?

As with all first aid, start with your own protection, put on disposable gloves, if you’re treating someone else, you’ll be in contact with blood.

Your best way to remove a tick is with a special tick removal tool, this will disengage the tick without leaving any mouth-parts in the bite site.

By sliding the tool under the tick from the side like a claw hammer removing a nail until it’s held securely.

Lift it slightly away from the skin and twist the tool 2 or 3 rotations, either way, until the tick detaches itself.

If you don’t have a tick removal tool you can use fine tipped tweezers.

Gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and very slowly pull the tick upwards. Don’t crush the tick, or you’ll leave head and mouth-parts embedded, which can cause infection.

Once the tick’s removed disinfect the site of the bite well.

If the site remains red and swollen seek medical advice for treatment.

Never use a cigarette or flame to remove a tick.

How to protect yourself from tick bites

If you’re planning to walk in long grass, bracken or in forest and heath land.

  • Don’t wear shorts
  • Tuck trousers into socks
  • Stick to footpaths rather than walking through long vegetation
  • Brush down your clothes
  • Consider using an insect repellent
  • Check yourself when you shower at the end of the day. Especially, under the arms, in and around the ears, in the tummy button, backs of knees, in and around the hair, between your legs and around the waist.
  • Find out more by attending an Outdoor Activity First Aid Course

Fetch the AED

Where’s the AED (Automated External Defibrillator)

When someone has a cardiac arrest and isn’t breathing, you should start CPR immediately, then send someone to fetch the AED.AED unit

Not all AEDs have locked cabinets, so you may be able to just pull open the door.

Some of the locked units have quite a lot of writing on them and you could be in panic mode, so may not see, “Call 999 for the access code”

Once you’ve dialed 999/112, you’ll be able to open the door. If you’re not by the cabinet, they’ll tell you if there’s a unit within a few minutes of where you are.

Take the AED out of the cabinet.

Defibrillator ON switch
Switch ON
Defibrillator PULL bar
PULL to activate

Once you’re back with the casualty, open the unit, unzip, pull the lever, switch it on if necessary.

Follow the voice instructions and do whatever they say.

Remove Clothing

Remove all clothing from the casualty’s chest, cutting it off if necessary.

Most AED packs include a set of heavy-duty shears, these will easily cut through cloth and underwired bras.

If there are bystanders, get them to hold up a blanket, rug or towel to preserve the casualty’s dignity.

Once you’ve removed the clothes, wipe dry the skin.

Look at the pads to see where they need to go, if the casualty has a lot of chest hair, be prepared to shave it.

There’s a razor in the pack, use it to clear the areas where the pads are to go.

Remove the pads from the backing and place them as shown in the diagram on the reverse side.Defib Pad placement

Don’t worry if you get them mixed up, they’ll work just as well in either position.

Before placing the pads, make sure they’re not touching any metal or jewellery, including piercings.

Remove all patches and plasters and avoid placing the pads over existing internal pacemakers or defibrillators. (If there’s an internal defibrillator beneath the skin, it has failed, so continue with pad placement adjacent to it)

Attach the Pads

Once the pads are attached, the AED should now be giving you further instructions.

If you’ve already been performing CPR it will tell you to stop and not touch the casualty, while it analyses their heartbeat.

Following a cardiac arrest, the heart won’t be beating normally, it will be quivering or fibrillating.

The AED will detect this, but if someone is touching them it will detect their pulse and stop the defibrillator from shocking.

When the AED has stopped analysing, having failed to find a heartbeat, it will tell you the patient needs a shock.

Deliver a shock

Some AEDs deliver this automatically, but others require the person using it to press a button to deliver the shock.Defib SHOCK button

When you’re told the shock’s been given, if the heart hasn’t restarted, you’ll be instructed to begin CPR again.

The unit will give you the option to follow instructions for this and give you a rhythm to follow for the correct rate of compressions.

You should follow the audible instructions from the unit, administering CPR and shocks as directed.

Always continue this until medical professionals tell you to stop, the casualty comes round and makes definite signs of life, or you’re just too exhausted to carry on and there’s nobody to take over from you.

If the casualty comes around, never remove the pads, they could easily have another arrest. Because they’re single use they can’t be reattached.

Myths about defibrillators.

  1. They start the heart – defibrillators stop the heart from quivering or fibrillating. This allows the heart to naturally “reboot” into a normal rhythm.
  2. The casualty can be harmed by an AED – The person is clinically dead, you can only help them
  3. You can be shocked by an AED – You can only shock someone if there is no heartbeat, this why it’s important not to touch them when the device is analysing.

 

 

Dying for a holiday?

Christmas Eve

Why is 10pm on Christmas Eve a dangerous time for Swedes.

Swedish research led by Dr David Erlinge, from the Department of Cardiology, Clinical Sciences, at the Lund University  looked at the frequency of heart attacks at holiday times.

They have concluded that, the average daily number of heart attacks increases from 50 to 69 a on Christmas Eve massive 37% increase. Most of these occur around 10pm, following a day of too much food and excessive drinking

You may ask why Christmas Eve? The simple answer, in Swedish culture they celebrate on the 24th of December, not Christmas Day as we do in the UK.Christmas lights

Christmas Day

Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that, 10pm on Christmas Day in the UK, may be the most likely time for Brits to be having heart attacks, too.

Seemingly it doesn’t get much better on Boxing Day either, the increase remains high at 22%.

But the big surprise was New Years Eve, with no appreciable increase, and heart attack symptoms probably masked by alcohol.Paper chains

New Year

However, New Year’s Day the heart attacks again rose by 20%. Put down to after effects of too much alcohol and food, sleep deprivation and cold weather.

Dr. Erlinge said, “The peak is very pronounced, exactly on Christmas Eve and the following two days, so, I think it is something specific about the way we celebrate these holidays.

“We do not know for sure, but emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress increases the risk of a heart attack. Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance travelling may also increase the risk.

“Interestingly, the pattern of increased risk in the morning which dominates the rest of the year was reversed at Christmas. With an increased risk in the evening, indicating that the stress and eating during the day triggered the heart attacks.

“People could avoid unnecessary stress, take care of elderly relatives with risk of heart problems and avoid excessive eating and drinking.”

Beliefs

The researchers believe that the emotional pressure of Christmas. Stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, grief, family disputes, financial worries and memories of lost relatives and friends, all contribute.

Of course, environmental issues such as the “flu” season will pay a part. Over 65s being most liable to succumb, especially if they have heart problems.

“People need to be aware of the increased cardiovascular risk associated with emotional distress and excessive food intake that may occur during large holidays. We also need to care more about our elderly and sicker friends and relatives,” added Dr Erlinge.

Read about this research in the British Medical Journal

Your ABC of BBQ First Aid

Barbecue First Aid

One of the joys of the summer season is a barbecue with family and friends.

Sausages on BBQBut would you know what to do if someone cut themselves, suffered a nasty burn, or started choking?

Here’s a simple ABC, or rather, CBA, to remember for when you’re next enjoying some alfresco dining.

C is for Cuts

Cutting meat or vegetables, or in fact anything, requiring a knife.

Wobbly camping tables and uneven surfaces, put you at risk of cutting yourself, rather than what you intend to eat.

If someone cuts themselves, where practical rinse the wound.

Fetch the First Aid kit and put on protective gloves, a sensible addition to the barbecue kit.

Next, sorry if you’re squeamish, but you’ll need to take a look, to see exactly where the blood’s coming from. Is the blood spurting out in pulses, is it bubbling out or gently oozing.

If it’s spurting or bubbling, it’s a significant wound and you need to put pressure on it with your finger or hand.

Apply a non-fluffy dressing for 10 minutes, and raising the affected area above the heart to help to stop the bleeding.

The casualty will usually be able to maintain the pressure themselves.

If the blood comes through that dressing put a second one over the top and keep the pressure on for 10 minutes.

If the blood still comes through remove both dressings check where the blood is coming from.

Re-apply the pressure, starting again. Take appropriate steps to get the casualty to hospital.

B is for Burns

If you’re cooking on a barbecue, there’s always the risk of a direct burn from the metal barbecue grill, or from splashes of fat or steam.

The most important thing you can do with any burn or scald, is to cool the area as quickly as possible, ideally in the first minute.

Pouring cold water or a cold drink over the affected part is a start, cola, squash, milk, or even beer will do.

Then get the casualty to the nearest tap and get the water flowing over the burn.

This will help to alleviate the pain and help prevent scarring.

If the burn is large and blistered, cover it with a non-fluffy dressing, clean plastic bag.

Cling film is excellent for this since it doesn’t stick and forms an airtight seal around the burn.

Get the casualty to hospital as quickly as possible .

A is for Airways

So, the dangers of cutting and cooking the food has passed.

Everyone’s finally enjoying their barbecue meal, suddenly you see one of your guests frantically pointing to their throat.

They can’t breath and are apparently choking on some food.

First, ask them if they’re choking, and if they nod that they are, encourage them to cough.

If they can’t cough, lean them forward and firmly slap them firmly with the palm of your hand 5 times between the shoulder blades, until the obstruction is cleared.

If they still can’t breathe, you need to attempt abdominal thrusts.

Stand behind the choking person, put your arms around them, make a fist with one hand and grasp it with the other hand, then pull sharply upwards and inwards between their navel and breastbone.

Do this five times in quick succession.

If this doesn’t work, call 999 / 112 immediately. Then repeat the 5 back slaps, then the 5 thrusts, keep repeating this cycle until either the obstruction moves or the person collapses.

If they fall to the ground and stop breathing start CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) immediately and call for a defibrillator.

Whenever abdominal thrusts have been administered, the casualty must be checked out at a hospital in case internal organs have been damaged.

So, you now know how to tackle three of the most typical barbecue first aid emergencies.

If you’d like to learn more about how to help save a life with first aid training, simply click here

Have a great barbecue.

 

CPR First Aid Training

Giving you the confidence to act in an emergency

Heat Stroke is a killer

Heat Stroke can be fatal.

Heat Stroke is when your body’s core temperature rises above 40°C (104°F) .

This is an extremely dangerous situation where heat exhaustion progresses to a life-threatening condition.

Your body’s cells begin to break down and important organs stop working.

  • You will be sweating heavily but this will stop suddenly, your body has no more water to excrete.
  • Your body is now overheated and dangerously dehydrated
  • You will have rapid shallow breathing (hyper-ventilating)
  • Your heart-rate will become rapid and you will begin to suffer muscle cramps.
  • You become mentally confused,  and will loose consciousness.
  • You are now in critical danger and need to seek treatment immediately
  • Without treatment you will develop, multiple organ failure, brain damage and die.

This is much more serious than Heat Exhaustion

Signs and symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature 40°C (104°F)
  • Heavy and profuse sweating which suddenly stops – your body is unable to produce more sweat and has become over heated and dehydrated
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cramps in your muscles

What to do for someone with Heat Stroke

  • Move the person to a cool area
  • Give them as much air as possible – open windows, use air-conditioning or a fan
  • Give them plenty to drink
  • Do NOT give them any form of medication – painkillers etc.
  • Shower the skin with cool, not cold water, immerse them in a cool bath, or cover them with cold wet towels or sheets and direct a fan over them to create evaporation
  • Gently massage the skin to encourage circulation
  • Beware they may start to have a fit or seizure, remove all danger and support them from injury.
  • If they start to have a seizure do not put anything in their mouth
  • If they loose consciousness and begin to vomit, protect their airway by putting them in the recovery position
  • Call 999 / 112 for an ambulance
  • If they stop breathing begin Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation