Recognize and Care for Heat Related Emergencies
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.
- Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids.
- Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.
Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
- Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition.
- If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
Heat stroke (also known as sunstroke) is a life-threatening condition in which a person's temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.
- Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature.
- Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
- Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person's body by giving care as you would for heat exhaustion. If needed, continue rapid cooling by applying ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.
Basic First Aid Tips and Supplies
When someone is injured or suddenly becomes ill, there is usually a critical period before you can get medical treatment and it is this period that is of the utmost importance to the victim. You owe it to yourself, your family and your neighbours to know and to understand procedures that you can apply quickly in an emergency.
- Make sure your Company/Unit has a first aid kit. Tailor your supplies to fit your particular needs. Supplies need to be clearly marked and readily available in an emergency. Also, make sure your kit is unlocked to provide easy access.
- Keep your first aid kit, all medications, including non-prescription drugs out of children's reach. When discarding drugs, be sure to dispose of them where children or pets cannot retrieve them.
- Before assisting a victim, protect yourself first. Assess the scene and determine the prevalent hazards, if any. Whenever possible, wear gloves to protect yourself from blood and other bodily fluids.
- When an emergency occurs, make sure the tongue does not block the victim's airway and that the mouth is free of any secretions and foreign objects. It's extremely important that the person is breathing freely. And if not, you must administer artificial respiration promptly.
- See that the victim has a pulse and good blood circulation as you check for signs of bleeding. Act fast if the victim is bleeding severely, swallowed poison or his heart or breathing has stopped. Remember every second counts.
- It's vitally important not to move a person with serious neck or back injuries unless you have to save him from further danger. If he has vomited and there is no danger that his neck is broken, turn him aside to prevent choking and keep him warm by covering him with blankets or coats.
- Have someone call for medical assistance while you apply first aid. The person who summons help should explain the nature of the emergency and ask what should be done pending the arrival of the ambulance. Reassure the victim, and try to remain calm yourself. Your calmness can relieve the fear and panic of the patient.
Basic First Aid Kit Supplies
Over counter medications:
- Your preferred pain relief tablets or capsules.
- Antibiotic Ointment or powder.
- Antihistamine to control mild allergic reactions.
- Antiseptic - We like Betadine individually wrapped swabs as you can either wipe a wound over or squeeze the swab so droplets can be applied to a wound and they take up such little space.
- Burn gel with Aloe vera is our preference. Aloe Vera aids in healing, pain relief, has anti-inflammatory properties, help prevent blistering and scarring.
- Hydro-cortisone cream for skin inflammation and rashes.
- Stings and Bites cream - We prefer one with a local anaesthetic that helps reduce the itchiness of bites.
- Cold sore cream - if you are prone to cold sores sunlight and sunburn can trigger them so take some cold sore cream. Zorvirax is our preference.
- Electrolyte replacement powder or dissoluble tablets - for when you are in humid temperatures and sweating out your bodies salts and minerals. Or if you suffer from vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
- Antiseptic wipes or gel - for cleaning your hands before touching open wounds. Having a separate bottle or wipes, for using after you have been to the loo as such, is a great idea too.
Other contents to add to a Basic first aid kit:
- Plastic gloves - couple of pairs. They do not take up much room in the first aid kit
- Band Aids - a variety of shapes and sizes for cuts and scrapes . We find the long strips of fabric tape with the padding already in place is great because you can cut it to any length then seal it down with adhesive tape if needed.
- Adhesive Tape - We prefer paper tape as you do not have to have scissors to cut it as it will tear by just using your fingers - Get a good quality tape that will not get brittle with age or lose it's stickiness. It is useless when that occurs.
- Steri-strips (Butter-fly sutures, Adhesive Sutures, Adhesive Closures) - used to pull a small gaping cut or wound together.
- We have also used adhesive paper tape for the same purpose if steri-strips are not available as it is clean when it comes off the roll. (Do not place your fingers on the sticky side where it will be covering the cut .)
- Gauze and non-stick dressing pads - preferably sterile. They come in all sizes. One option if you are trying to save space is to get a bigger size dressing as you can cut to size as needed. It will save space.
- Elastic and crepe bandages - a few different widths.
- Triangular Bandage - For slings, padding, strapping limbs to splints if a fracture is suspected.
- Two tongue depressors or ice block sticks for finger splints.
- Normal saline 10ml vials for the double use as an eye wash or wound cleansing.
- Tweezers - A good pair of tweezers has easy-to-grip handles and can be used for splinter removal and other first aid procedures.
- Curved Scissors - Scissors come in handy and have many uses. Curved medical ones are great as they don't have sharp points. In an emergency you might need to cut clothes away from an injury site and it is easy to poke through something and cause further injury when you are in a hurry or under stress.
- Instant Cold Pack/s - These are so useful with bruising, swelling and sprains. They are single use, so if you have space grab a couple for your kit.
- Torch - wind up or the shake type so you do not need to carry batteries.
- Knife - A multi purpose must-have tool that serves so many uses.
- Insect repellent.
- Safety Pins - We use tape to do most of the jobs that safety pins do although tape fails if your pants zipper breaks, tape just does not hold it together. Safety pins win here. So good idea to pack a few.
- Duct tape - this has many uses. The standard roll of duck tape takes up a lot of room in a pack so find something small to re-wrap it onto like a pen but be careful, if the edges roll up and stick to the next layer it will be very difficult to unwrap when you need it.
- Moleskin - great for blisters and chaffing skin. Moleskins are artificial skin that you can cut to shape and stick to your own skin. Moleskin can be purchased in most drug stores/pharmacies in a variety of brands and features.
- Snake bite kit - This is only necessary if the location to which you are going to has venomous snakes. There are different schools of thought about snake bit kit contents. So check out where you are going and what snakes are present there. If you take one know how to use it. Also check out our Snake Bite pages.
- Sunscreen - for the prevention of sunburn.
- Mobile phone - charged. You will also need to check whether mobile service will be available in the area you are going to be in.
- Be sure to take any personal medication.
We have said it before, but will say it again, never be complacent and always take a Basic first aid kit with you. The one time you don't will be the time you need it.