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

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 suffered a cut, a burn, or started choking? Here’s a simple ABC, or rather, a CBA, to remember for when you’re next enjoying some alfresco dining.

C is for Cuts

Cutting meat, or in fact anything, on a wobbly camping table puts you at risk of cutting yourself, rather than the food you intend to eat.

If someone cuts themself, first rinse the wound (if it’s practical to do so).

Fetch the First Aid kit and put on protective gloves.

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 and 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, but if the blood still comes through remove both dressings and reapply 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, until you can get the burn to the nearest tap and get the water flowing over it – 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 or cling film and get the casualty to hospital.

A is for Airways

So, the risk of cutting and cooking the food has passed, and everyone’s finally enjoying their barbecued meal, when suddenly you see one of your guests frantically pointing to their throat, 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.

 

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