Tag Archives: First Aid

  • First Aid for Oxygen Deprivation

    Here’s a fun new word to impress your friends at parties: hypoxia. Medical professionals and other Latin speakers will recognize it as a fancy way to describe oxygen deprivation, which is a pretty broad class of conditions. Hypoxia can be general or localized (i.e., affecting just a hand), can result from anything from asthma to cancer, and favors no particular demographic.

    What are the symptoms of hypoxia?

    • headache
    • nausea
    • feeling of euphoria
    • fatigue
    • shortness of breath

    So, when might the average, mostly-healthy person experience oxygen deprivation? Here are a few instances:

    1. Choking. Pretty straightforward: a blockage in the windpipe prevents the intake of oxygen, cutting off the supply to the lungs. Under-oxygenated blood appears blue under the skin (called cyanosis, in case you need another big word), but the more pressing danger is the oxygen-deprived brain, which is susceptible to long-term damage.

    The only safe way out of that situation is to take care of the object that’s preventing you from breathing. Sarah’s post on choking tells you how to rescue someone else, or how to perform the Heimlich on yourself if rescuers are scarce.

    2. Altitude. Well do I remember my years of travel between my Pacific Northwest home base and my university in the Rocky Mountains. Every time I left sea level, I could expect a day of headaches and catching my breath. (Oh, how I hated those hills leading up to campus!) In its more acute form, hikers refer to this kind of hypoxia as altitude sickness, or mountain sickness. The less oxygen-dense air at higher altitudes deprives lungs—and, consequently, brain, blood, muscles, etc.—of critical oxygen, causing everything from nausea, lightheadedness, and nosebleeds to swollen hands and feet, drowsiness, or an accelerated pulse.

    Just as dangerous as either of the previous instances, altitude-related hypoxia can only be reversed by increasing oxygen intake. In most cases, that means you’ll need to head down the mountain. You can lower your risk in the first place by ascending slowly, exerting yourself less at higher altitudes, or—assuming you’re braver than I am and are hiking something really, really high—carrying supplemental oxygen with you.

    Flight attendant showing oxygen masks on airplane

    Another situation where the altitude and air pressure could lead to oxygen deprivation is on an airplane. If the cabin suddenly loses air pressure, masks will fall and will provide you with the necessary oxygen. However, the cabin could also lose air pressure over time because of a leak, in which case the symptoms will build up slowly and you may not notice them.

    3. Smoke inhalation. While you may go through the motions of breathing, inhaling something other than oxygen—like fumes from a house or forest fire—decreases your O2 levels and puts you at risk of hypoxia. And in a situation where environmental oxygen is scarce, your body’s response can put you in even greater danger: the lethargy and disorientation that results from withholding oxygen from the brain can make it difficult to get yourself quickly out of danger; and hyperventilation, meant to increase oxygen intake, only speeds up the intake of noxious fumes.

    Here, as with most emergency issues, your best bet is prevention, and common sense is a close second. Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are your friends. Keep an eye on city’s posted fire danger levels. Asthmatics especially should keep medicines and inhalers current and should be careful of outdoor activity during wildfire season.

    Now, if you want to sound really erudite at this party, you could differentiate between hypoxemic hypoxia and cerebral hypoxia…or maybe just stick to that cool story of how you almost summited Annapurna.


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, First Aid, skills

  • First Aid: Recognizing and Treating Shock

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    You arrive at the scene of a car accident. The driver of one car is sitting at the edge of the road--pale, chilled, staring glassily ahead and not answering questions of bystanders. She slowly rocks back and forth, one hand pressed to her chest. One of the would-be helpers looks up. “I think she’s in shock,” he says. What does he mean?

    Woman with chest pain

    What is shock?
    Medically, there are different types of shock, but generally when the word is used alone it refers to circulatory shock, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the organs and tissues of the body are not receiving an adequate flow of blood. This deprives them of oxygen and allows the build-up of waste products. If not treated in time, the cells begin to die. There are three stages of circulatory shock:

    1. Stage I (compensated or non-progressive): In this stage, the heart beats faster, blood vessels constrict a little, and the kidneys work to retain fluid levels in the body. There is little or no urine output—all this to maximize blood flow to the most important systems in the body. The patient may show few symptoms, and proper treatment can completely halt any progression of the shock.

    2. Stage II: The body’s compensation methods (described in Stage I) begin to fail. The brain experiences oxygen deprivation, causing confusion and disorientation. Lack of sufficient oxygen to the heart causes chest pain. With quick appropriate action, Stage II can still be reversed.

    3. Stage III: A longer period of circulatory insufficiency causes permanent damage to organs and tissues, including the heart and brain, kidneys, liver, etc. Systems begin to shut down, brain cells die—and soon, so does the individual.

    Which stage of shock do you think the driver in the first paragraph was in?


    What are the types of shock, and how are they treated?

    In addition to circulatory shock (or often along with it) there are other types of shock:

    • Cardiogenic shock—heart-related, such as from a heart attack, an infection of the heart sac, a blood clot, or fluid retention caused by heart failure.
    • Hypovolemic shock—related to low blood-volume from hemorrhage, internal bleeding, pancreatitis, severe dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, uncontrolled diabetes, large areas of severely-burned skin, or extreme heat stress.
    • Septic shock—caused by an overwhelming infection, usually bacterial, that weakens the heart and affects every tissue as it circulates in the bloodstream, dropping blood pressure to dangerously low levels by widening blood vessels, causing respiratory distress, liver and kidney failure, and coma. Includes toxic shock syndrome.
    • Anaphylactic shock—caused by an allergic reaction to a food, drug, or venom.
    • Traumatic shock—brought on by either a traumatic physical injury such as being hit by a car or a mental/emotional blow such as seeing a loved one killed. Crushing injuries also can trigger traumatic shock.
    • Insulin shock—a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) reaction to an overdose of insulin, a skipped meal, or strenuous exercise. Symptoms include tremor, dizziness, cool, moist skin, hunger, confusion, sleepiness, tachycardia (racing heart), coma, and convulsions. Some patients can recognize when their blood sugar is getting low; others cannot. Treatment: if the person can swallow, administer a little sugar with applesauce or orange juice or a bit of candy bar and/or a little high-protein food such as cheese or peanut butter with crackers. If the person can’t swallow, rub some sugar on the gums and under the tongue. If you can’t help them, get medical attention right away.
    • Neurogenic shock—from damage to the nervous system such as a severed spine or a brain injury, extreme pain, or a disease that affects the nervous system.

     Woman wrapped up in blanket

    Treatment for most types of shock includes the following:

    • Quickly diagnose the stage of shock the person is in and call 911.
    • Try to halt the underlying cause if you can determine it—such as stopping obvious bleeding, removing an allergen or whatever is causing their reaction, , treating an infection, or re-starting the heart with CPR.
    • Keep the patient warm, lying flat if possible with legs raised about 12 inches to encourage blood flow to the heart and brain. If the person is vomiting, turn the head slightly to one side to avoid aspirating or gagging on vomit.
    • Medical personnel will treat the effects, such as transfusing blood for low blood volume or pressure, giving meds for acidic blood or for heart weakness, giving oxygen, and administering intravenous fluids and meds if the patient can’t hold anything down. .
    • DO NOT move or turn a person over if you have any reason to think there may be a spinal or neck injury.
    • DO NOT place a pillow under the person’s head, as that may hurt the neck or constrict breathing.
    • DO NOT wait to see if his symptoms improve or get worse before calling 911. In some cases, death can occur within 15 minutes.

    Shock is serious business in any of its forms, and time is of the essence in each case. Shock should be one of the first things to look for and evaluate when a person has suffered an injury, an allergic reaction, or an emotional blow.





    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, First Aid

  • First Aid for Hypothermia and Frostbite

    Have you ever been outside in the cold so long that you’ve felt like your toes were going to fall off? Did your toes or fingers start to get numb, and turn red or pale white? These are the signs of frostnip, what Dr. Eric Weiss, author of Wilderness and Travel Survival calls “an early cold injury to the skin [that] does not usually lead to permanent damage.”

    First Aid for Hypothermia and Frostbite

    Even though frostnip is often mistaken for frostbite, frostnip is an early stage of frostbite. So it’s important to get yourself warm, quick! Frostbite is a serious condition that can potentially result in the loss of a digit or a limb if it is not treated quickly. The conditions leading to frostbite can also lead to life-threatening cold emergencies like hypothermia.

    It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite early so you can preserve your life and your limbs!


    What are the Signs/Symptoms of Frostbite?

    • Skin becomes white and waxy in appearance
    • Frostbitten limbs become hard like a piece of wood
    • Tingling feeling in limbs, followed by numbness
    • Aching or throbbing in limbs

    Symptoms for severe frostbite include:

    • Blisters
    • Gangrene (blackened limbs that result from dead tissue)
    • Tendons, muscles, or nerves may become damaged

    How do you treat Frostbite?

    According to the Red Cross and Medline Plus, in order to treat Frostbite you should:

    • Handle the person gently. Do not rub the affected area.
    • Move the person to a warmer area or try to shelter them from the cold.
    • Since Frost bite is a precursor to hypothermia, and at times accompanies it, check for signs of hypothermia in the victim and treat them accordingly.
    • Warm the frostbitten area by soaking it in warm water (not hot water) until it is red and feels warm.
    • Wrap the area in sterile dressings.
    • If fingers or toes are frozen, place gauze between them to keep them separated.
    • DO NOT let the area refreeze (refreezing and thawing causes the most damage to tissues).
    • DO NOT break any blisters.
    • Get Medical attention quickly.


    According to Wilderness and Travel Medicine, Hypothermia is when body temperature lowers drastically below 98.6°F. Those suffering from hypothermia whose core body temperature lowers to 90°F (32°C) are victims of mild to moderate hypothermia.

    If the core body temperature drops to 83°F (28°C), the heart begins to beat irregularly. Once the core body temperature lowers to 75-80°F (24-27°C) the person may die.

    Your goal is to try to bring their body temperature back to a normal level until medical attention arrives.

    What are the Signs/Symptoms of Hypothermia?

    According to the Red Cross the signs of Hypothermia include:

    • Shivering (if they stop shivering it means their core body temperature has dropped below 88°F (31°C)).
    • Numbness
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Apathy
    • Weakness
    • Impaired judgment
    • Glassy stare

    How do you treat Hypothermia?

    • Move the person out of the cold and into a warm area, lay them on their back on a blanket or other warm item to insulate them from the ground
    • Remove any wet clothing
    • Make sure that the person is breathing normally. Administer CPR if needed.
    • Use a warm, dry compress [chemical hot pack] to restore heat.

    -          Place this compress ONLY on the person’s neck, chest, or groin.

    -          Placing on arms or legs could push cold back to the heart or lungs causing body temperatures to drop again.

    • If they are conscious give them warm beverages (non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated)
    • Use your own body temperature to warm the person if there is no other heat source available.

    -          Take off your clothes and theirs; lie next to them wrap blankets around both of you.


    As you try to restore normal body temperature, warm their body slowly. Warming the body too quickly can cause shock and serious heart arrhythmias.

    • Warm slowly by gradually wrapping blankets or putting warm clothing on their body
    • DO NOT submerge any of the body in warm water, nor put on an electric heating pad, or heating lamp as this can cause skin damage and irregular heartbeat.

    Get the person medical attention immediately

    How can I prevent Frostbite and Hypothermia?

    These prevention techniques are especially applicable to those who like to do outdoor winter activities like snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, etc.

    • Windmilling for Warmth

    This is a cool trick from Wilderness and Travel Medicine:

    -          If you are experiencing Frostnip or begin to start feeling numbness in your fingers swing your arms around in a circle like a windmill for a few minutes. This will increase blood flow to your hands and fingers, delaying the onset of frostbite

    • Come out of the cold in regular intervals to warm up and relieve yourself of the cold
    • Eat a well-balanced, carbohydrate-rich meal before going out in the cold so your body will have the energy to help you maintain your core body temperature.
    • If you notice any tingling or numbness, get out of the cold
    • Keep yourself dry. Bring extra clothes so that you can change immediately if you get wet.
    • Wear lots of layers and adjust as needed if you start to sweat.
    • Watch the weather; if the forecast predicts extreme temperatures, stay inside.
    • Have available at least 1 wind-proof layer.

    In a nutshell, if you’re ever in the cold, make sure that you bundle up and take regular breaks from extreme conditions to warm yourself up.

    If you’re forced to be in the cold because of an emergency (your car breaks down in the cold, for example) make sure you’re prepared. Store blankets, extra clothes, hand warmers, and matches in your car emergency kit so you won’t suffer from the extreme effects of hypothermia and frostbite.






    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000057.htm (symptoms)

    http://www.stjohnprovidence.org/TraumaCenter/Prevention/frostbite/ (prevention)


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: frostbite, hypothermia, emergency preparedness, First Aid, Winter

  • First Aid for Allergic Reactions


    You’re enjoying dinner in a nice restaurant. Suddenly your lips and tongue are tingling and you begin to feel dizzy and anxious. Breathing becomes labored. What’s happening to you? Chances are you’re having an allergic reaction to something in your meal.

    All allergic reactions are responses to sensitivities we may have to allergens, which are often protein substances found in foods, medications, insect and spider venom, plant material, chemicals, the air we breathe, and things we commonly touch. Allergies can be with us from birth, or suddenly develop at any age—and some are commonly outgrown as we mature. Sometimes the first exposure to an allergen produces only a mild reaction in a sensitive person, but repeated exposures result in more and more serious reactions.

    How dangerous are allergies?

    The reactions can range from mild (but miserable) to life-threatening. Most reactions occur soon after the exposure—or even immediately within the first two hours. Always pay attention to allergies and treat them or get medical attention right away. The most extreme and dangerous reaction is anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock—a sudden, severe reaction that can actually lead to death in as little as fifteen minutes if not treated.

    What are the most common allergens?

    • Food allergens: shellfish, fish, peanuts (very dangerous, especially because there is often “hidden” peanut content in many processed foods), tree nuts, tomatoes, strawberries, eggs, milk, and soy products
    • Animal dander, saliva, or urine; dust mites
    • Venom from bites and stings, especially bees, wasps, and some ants and spiders
    • Medications, oral or injected, including insulin, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and ibuprofen
    • Plants and pollens, notably poison ivy, poison oak, grasses, molds, many springtime pollens
    • Dyes, chemicals, metals, ingredients in soaps and cosmetics

    What are the most common symptoms of allergic reactions?

    • Itchy rash or hives
    • Flushing of face or neck
    • Tingling lips or tongue
    • Swollen face, lips, eyes, or throat
    • Abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea
    • Dizziness or light-headedness
    • Sneezing, dripping nose, weeping, itchy eyes
    • A tight feeling in the chest, difficulty breathing, asthma
    • Anxiety, heart palpitations
    • Loss of consciousness

    Why are some people allergic to a substance when most others are not?

    An allergy is an overreaction of a person’s immune system to a particular substance that it regards as a threat. What triggers one person’s allergies might not trouble another at all. People who are especially prone to allergies are said to be “atopic.” The tendency to be atopic seems to be partially genetic, as sensitivities seem to run in families—but the environment also plays a part. Whether or not the person “likes” the offending substance or its carrier has nothing to do with his allergy. A person who loves cats or dogs may sadly still develop an allergy to them, and someone who enjoys shrimp and lobster may have to avoid them at all costs. A man who lives by farming may be forced to find another occupation if he has serious reactions to the plants or animals he must work with on the farm. Children who love “pb&j” sandwiches may be dangerously allergic to peanuts. NOTE: Parents who warn you about their children’s allergy problems are not being overprotective: they’re being prudent and careful. Pay attention!

    What should you do if you (or someone with you) has a sudden allergic reaction?

    • Try to ID the allergen if possible and remove it from the scene.
    • For a rash, bite, or sting, remove stinger if one is present, wash the site, apply a cold compress and use a hydrocortisone cream such as Benadryl. Take or administer an over-the-counter antihistamine as well, unless swallowing is hampered.

    For more severe reactions:

    • Call 911, then administer CPR if the person is not breathing or you can’t get a pulse.
    • Have the person lie flat if possible with feet elevated
    • Don’t place a pillow under the head if that tilts the head forward, as that might further constrict the airway—but a small, rolled towel under the person’s neck might make them more comfortable
    • Keep them warm; cover them with a blanket or coat
    • Know your loved ones allergies, whether they carry an Epi-pen or similar medication with them, and know how to use it in case they lose consciousness

    How are allergies identified and treated medically?

    Allergy specialists can administer tests to identify exactly what substance or substances trigger a person’s allergic reactions, and can recommend treatments. In some cases, they may be able to help the sufferer become less-sensitive to the offending substance.









    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: First Aid, family, preparedness, skills

  • First Aid Basics: How to Perform CPR

    |3 COMMENT(S)

    CPR stands for Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and is used to re-start heart and lung function in a victim who has collapsed and has no obvious breathing or pulse.

    Older man oerforming CPR on a young man.

    The old CPR guidelines were easily remembered by the letters “A-B-C,” referring to “airway,” “breathing,” and “circulation.” The new guidelines have put circulation first, so that the acronym to remember is now “C-A-B.” This is because it is considered most important to keep blood flowing to the brain while you’re working on breathing or until help arrives. If you see someone collapse or come across an unconscious person, quickly evaluate the situation:

    • Fist, determine if the victim is breathing. If they are, no CPR is necessary; call 911.
    • If they are not breathing but have a pulse, begin rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation).
    • If there is no breathing or pulse, perform CPR to try to restore both. If the cause is drowning or suffocation, apply chest compressions for one minute, then call 911.
    • In any case, stay with the victim until medical help arrives. Leaving the scene is called abandonment, and you could be held legally responsible.


    Here is a summary of the new CPR instructions:

    1.)     Call 911 or ask someone else to do so.

    2.)    Touch the victim and ask in a loud voice, “Are you okay? Can you hear me?” (For an infant, tickle the bottom of the feet.) If there is no response, turn them onto their back and kneel beside their chest.

    3.)    Position the heel of one hand in the middle of the chest—between the nipples is usually the right spot—and place your other hand over the first, with fingers interlaced. Kneeling up with your arms straight, begin chest compressions. Use your upper body weight as well as arm strength. The chest should go down at least two inches for adults and children up to 12, and about 1.5 inches in an infant. (Use just two fingers to compress an infant’s chest.) Compress about twice per second. If you’re familiar with the song, “Stayin’ Alive,” (an appropriate title!), the rhythm is just right: “Ah, ah, ah, ah—stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.” Continue until help arrives, OR…

    4.)    If you’re trained in CPR, after about 30 compressions you can open the person’s airway with a head tilt and chin lift. Turn the head slightly to one side and gently push the chin up. Using your index finger, sweep the inside of the person’s mouth to be sure there is no obvious obstruction present, such as a displaced dental bridge.

    5.)    Pinch the victim’s nose closed and cover their mouth with yours to create an airtight seal. Give 2 one-second breaths, watching for the chest to rise, allowing a second or two between breaths for the chest to fall again. (For an infant, administer 2 puffs of air, not deep breaths.) Ideally, you will have a helper—one person to do chest compressions and the other to do the rescue breathing. Note: if you’re squeamish about mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because of germs or other considerations, you might want to carry a barrier device such as Emergency Essentials’ CPR Microshield Clear Mouth Barrier in your car First-aid Kit.

    6.)    Continue alternating 2 breaths with 30 chest compressions. If you detect a pulse or if the person begins breathing on their own (not just occasional gasps), you can stop CPR, but stay around until help arrives. CPR can be exhausting, and most people can’t continue it for much longer than 5 minutes. Enlist the aid of other bystanders when you tire.

    7.)    If you’ve tried your best to help, you can feel good about your service, whatever the end result for the victim may be—and hopefully that will be an extension of his or her life.






    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: CPR, emergency preparedness, First Aid, skills

  • First Aid for Insect Bites and Stings


    When it comes to First Aid for bites and stings, prevention is the most desirable route to follow. Here are some tips for avoiding the annoyance (and pain) in the first place:

    • Avoid wearing bright, flowered clothing when camping, hiking, or picnicking so that you won’t look like food to insects, and use unscented toiletries so that you won’t smell like food!
    • Keep food, especially sweet or greasy food (such as fried chicken) covered, as well as pop cans, lemonade, and even water bottles in dry places.
    • Don’t flail your arms around to frighten the critters away—they might interpret that as aggression and attack.
    • Use a good insect repellent.


    If a bite or sting occurs despite your best efforts, treatment depends upon the insect and the severity of the injury.

    Bees, Wasps, Hornets, & Horseflies

    Description: Small, golden with brownish stripes on abdomen
    Nest: in hives (domestic or in hollow trees)
    Venom: Acidic; can only sting once, then bee dies.
    Treatment: Remove stinger by scraping in one direction with flat side of knife or credit card (not tweezers, as they can squeeze more venom into the wound). Wash with warm water and antibacterial soap; apply non-sudsing ammonia or baking soda/water paste.

    Description: Large, fuzzy yellow and black stripes
    Nest: On or under the ground, wood, or bricks
    Venom: Acidic. Can sting multiple times.
    Treatment: Same as for honeybee stings

    Carpenter Bees
    Description: Large, shiny black abdomen
    Nest: under eaves, in outbuildings and in walls
    Venom: Acidic. Females can sting.
    Treatment: Same as for honeybee stings

    “Killer” Africanized Hybrid Honeybee
    Description: Similar to regular honeybees, slightly smaller, extremely nervous and aggressive
    Nest: Anywhere they can find a hiding place, or on the ground
    Venom: Acidic, like honeybees, but they attack in swarms when disturbed, causing multiple stings
    Treatment: Usually need medical care because of number of stings; can be fatal

    Yellow Jacket Wasps
    Description: Black & yellow like bees, but with a “tightly-belted” waist. Highly aggressive
    Nest: On the ground
    Venom: Protein-based, pH neutral, paralyzes prey for easy transport
    Treatment: Wash, apply antihistamine cream (like Benadryl) and ice—10 minutes on, 10 off, as long as needed. Can apply a paste of aspirin or meat-tenderizer. Multiple stings: take oral antihistamine as well; seek medical treatment.

    Paper Wasps
    Description: Dark color, sting multiple times
    Nest: Under a ledge or roof
    Venom: Same as Yellow Jackets
    Treatment: Same as Yellow Jackets

    Description: Large black and white wasps
    Nest: in trees, shrubs, and under eaves
    Venom: Same as Yellow Jackets
    Treatment: Same as Yellow Jackets

    Description: Large flies—may be black, have green heads or yellow stripes. Long antennae.
    Nest: Live and breed in marshy areas, attracted to water
    Venom: No venom. Horseflies tear a little chunk out of the skin then lick up the blood. Bites are painful, easily infected.
    Treatment: Wash wound, apply antibiotic ointment and bandaid. See a doctor if it doesn’t heal properly (watch for increasing redness or red lines.)



    Regular ants
    Description: May be large or small; red, red and black, golden, brown, or black
    Nest: Usually build hives on the ground
    Venom: Formic acid, bites both sting and itch.
    Treatment: Ice, baking soda paste, non-sudsy ammonia, or calamine lotion

    Fire ants
    Description: Usually very small and red, throughout southern tier of states
    Nest: Near water or on watered lawns, or under something on the ground. In the open, they build tall mounds up to fifteen inches high
    Venom: Alkaloid, unlike other ants. They both bite and sting, first biting and then while holding on, injecting venom in a circle around the bite with the stinger near the tail. Aggressive and able to “call” friends to join the attack. Causes burning pain, itching, raised red areas or pustules, swelling, flu-like symptoms, and abnormal heart rhythms.
    Treatment: Wash site for two minutes, flooding with rubbing alcohol, Betadine, or hydrogen peroxide, then apply a cortisone anti-itch cream such as Benadryl. A little later, apply antibiotic ointment and bandaids; bites are very prone to infection. For multiple bites, seek medical attention.



    Most spiders in the United States are venomous, as they use venom to paralyze their prey, but luckily most of them either cannot bite people or their bite produces only a mild itch or irritation. Three spiders, however, deserve special mention.


    Black Widow
    Description: Females (the dangerous ones) have a rounded, polished black body with red spot(s) on the top or underside of the abdomen, sometimes in hourglass shape. Usually not aggressive, but bite in response to disturbance or touch.
    Nest: Untidy, tangled webs of strong silken fibers to trap their prey
    Venom: the neurotoxin latrotoxin, which in black widows is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom. (Fortunately, they only inject a small amount!) Bite feels like a pinprick at first, but soon causes breathing difficulties, chills and fever, adominal cramps, stiffness, anxiety and restlessness.
    Treatment: Get medical help; antidote available. Cleanse bite, apply a cold compress and elevate. Some symptoms continue for weeks.

    Brown Recluse
    Description: Narrow body, tan to brown with violin-shaped marking on its back. Usually more active at night than in daylight. Non-aggressive, bite when caught in clothing or trapped by person’s body.
    Nest: Indoors or out, in a dry, dark, protected space. Web threads go in every direction. Habitat from Nebraska to Ohio, and south to Texas, then across to northwest Florida. Related species in desert southwest.
    Venom: Necrotic (flesh-destroying) poison. Bite is hardly noticeable, then site develops pustule, redness, blister, purplish color, then a black scab that falls off, revealing an open ulcer.
    Treatment: Requires medical treatment with anti-venin, corticosteroids, antibiotics, and surgical removal of damaged tissue. Do NOT apply heat!

    Description: Large, hairy brown or black bodies with long legs. Often kept as pets.
    Nest: Usually burrow in the ground, prefer warm, dry climates.
    Venom: Paralyptic to prey. Painful bite, but no more dangerous than a honeybee unless you have an allergic reaction.
    Treatment: Apply a paste of meat-tenderizer and an ice cube.


    Description: Shaped like a small lobster with stinger in the tail that curls over its back. Reddish, blond, brown, or black.
    Nest: Favor warm climates, especially Arizona (poisonous Bark Scorpion). Most burrow in the ground.
    Venom: Neurotoxin. Sharp burn followed by sensitivity to touch and tingling or numbness.
    Treatment: Cleanse wound with soap and water, elevate if possible, and apply a cold compress—ten minutes on, ten off. Keep victim still and administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen, Aspririn, Motrin, or Advil. Don’t give food or liquid, as swallowing may become difficult. Call Poison Control (1-200-222-1222) for advice on whether to transport person to a hospital. Alarming symptoms would include blurry vision, roving eye-movements, muscle twitching, and difficulty walking. Children are at most risk. Anti-Venin drug Anascorp is approved.


    Description: Long, segmented, wormlike bodies with many legs. Brown or tan to red. Front two “legs” inject venom.
    Nest: Burrow in soil and leaf litter; prefer warm climates
    Venom: Painful sting, similar to bee venom. Large centipedes are the most dangerous.
    Symptoms: Weakness, swelling, chills, fever, itching.
    Treatment: Wash and dry site, apply first warmth to relieve the pain, then cold if there is swelling. Give ibuprofen or acetaminophen; apply cortisone cream for itch. Seek emergency care for any sign of allergic reaction such as swelling of lips or tongue, difficulty swallowing or breathing.




    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Survival, First Aid

  • First Aid for Dental Emergencies


    Dental emergencies seem to happen at the least-convenient times—when you’re camping, in the middle of your family vacation, on holidays, or during nasty weather. Fillings loosen, teeth get broken or knocked out, and crowns come off when you least expect them to. Nothing replaces expert dental care, but when your dentist isn’t readily available, what can you do?

    First of all, have a dental emergency kit such as Emergency Essentials’ “Dentemp Custom Teeth Filling Kit” on hand. Then follow these suggestions:

    • If the person with the injured tooth or teeth is bleeding, rinse the mouth with lukewarm water and be sure the tooth or tooth pieces are expelled into a tissue.
    • Press a wad of clean gauze to the injured area for about 10 minutes or until bleeding stops.
    • Rinse a dirty knocked-out tooth with clean water but do not scrub, brush, or remove any attached tissue fragments. If the tooth can be replaced in the gum, make sure it’s facing the right way and gently push into place, but never force it into the socket.
    • If it can’t be put into place, put it in a little milk or water with salt, and take it with you to the dentist, preferably within one hour of the accident to have the best chance of saving it. (Some families keep on hand a product called “Save-a-Tooth,” which is a growth medium and good for 24-hour preservation of a tooth.)
    • For a partially-dislodged tooth, leave it in place and take Advil or Tylenol. Apply a cold compress such as Emergency Essentials Instant Cold Pack and get to a dentist as soon as possible.
    • For a lost filling, cap, crown, or inlay, if you have nothing better to repair it with, have the person chew a little sugar-free gum and push the gum into the open cavity to protect the nerves from pain caused by heat and cold. If you have a dental repair kit such as Dentemp, cleanse your hands thoroughly or use clean vinyl gloves. Rinse the mouth, prepare the dental cement according to directions, and push it into the cavity, smoothing the surface so that it doesn’t stick up and interfere with the person’s bite or irritate the soft tissues of the tongue or cheek. If a cap or crown has come off, apply a little clove oil if you have it, then coat the inner surface of the crown with temporary dental cement (or denture adhesive or even toothpaste!) and replace the crown, holding it in place until the seal takes. Don’t chew on that side, and see your dentist as soon as possible. Note: DO NOT use super glue!






    Dr. Chris Crawford, DDS, Orem, UT

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, First Aid

  • First Aid for Dehydration

    |2 COMMENT(S)

     iStock_000015080090XSmall_drinking water

    Each day, most of us are mildly dehydrated without even knowing it.

    Just think about it: during the workday is there ever a time in the afternoon that you start to get very, very sleepy? Well, according to Camelbak and the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, dehydration is the #1 cause of afternoon fatigue, especially during the summer.

    With temperatures reaching 100 degrees or higher, I’ve found myself getting tired at 2:00 in the afternoon and drinking more Root Beers, Slurpees, and Sonic Cream Slushes than water to battle the heat. And it’s taken its toll, especially because I didn’t realize that dehydration was to blame.

    I’ve had headaches and been dizzy, moody and tired, always thinking that something else was wrong and never thinking that the solution could be as simple as drinking more water.

    What Causes Dehydration?

    Many people think that not drinking enough water is the cause of dehydration. However, not drinking enough water is only part of the reason why a person could become dehydrated.

    • Our bodies are made up of 70% water
    • Each day we typically lose a portion of that water from urination, bowel movements, sweat, and tears
    • The problem comes when we don’t replace the water we are losing, causing our body’s water percentage to decrease

    The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center suggests that when we lose water, we also lose salt and electrolytes in our systems that are vital to life. This combination of the loss of salt and water causes dehydration.

    How do you recognize dehydration? What are the signs and symptoms?

    For Adults:

    • Thirst/dry mouth
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Lightheadedness
    • Dark urine or urinating less frequently (maybe one or two times a day)
    • Sleepiness
    • Constipation
    • Little to no tears when crying
    • Dry skin
    • Muscle cramps (especially during exercise)

    For Children:

    • Lack of urine or wet diapers for 6-8 hours (lack of urine for 12 hours in older children)
    • Little to no tears when crying
    • Eyes look sunken into head
    • Soft spot on baby’s head looks sunken
    • Irritability, less active
    • Fatigue or dizziness in older children

    What should you do if you are dehydrated?

    • Rehydrate, of course! Mild dehydration can be easily treated at home by drinking more water.
    • Drink water or sports drinks (sports drinks can replace electrolytes, salt lost through sweating and other water loss).
    • According to the Institute of Medicine, Men should drink 13 glasses of water a day (about 3 liters) and women should drink about 9 glasses a day (about 2.2 liters)

    Many of us have heard the 8x8 rule: drink eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. However, this advice isn’t supported by hard scientific evidence. But it is close to the recommended amount of water we should drink and is easy to remember. That’s why it sticks around, but we should be drinking more water than the 8x8.

    When should you seek medical attention for dehydration?

    In extreme cases, seek medical attention for dehydration. Symptoms of severe dehydration are as follows:

    • Extreme thirst
    • Extremely dry mouth, skin, and mucous membranes (nose, mouth, throat, eyelids, ears )
    • Low blood pressure
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Lack of sweat when active
    • Sunken eyes
    • Shriveled or dry skin
    • Rapid breathing
    • Fever
    • Delirium or unconsciousness (in extreme cases)

    However, according to recent studies conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, even mild dehydration can cause big problems such as mood changes, memory impairment, headaches, and constipation.  Be on a look out for these changes as well.

     How can you avoid getting into the dehydration danger zone in the first place?

    • Right when you get up in the morning, drink a glass of water.
    • Drink a glass of water before each meal.

    Have a water bottle on your desk at work (or in your bag at school). Seeing the bottle will help you stay hydrated. For more tips on how to stay hydrated watch these tips for how to Feel “A Little Bit Better” with water!!



    Camelbak video: Tips for staying hydrated











    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: water, First Aid

  • First Aid for Choking

    |3 COMMENT(S)

    This post is part of a series related to First Aid knowledge and skills. Join us in learning about First Aid, and lend your experiences and knowledge to the discussion!


    As a follow-up to Monday’s intro, I thought it would be fitting for the first installment in our series to address First Aid for choking.

    If you’ve ever choked on something, even momentarily, you know what a panicky feeling it can be. If you notice someone is having difficulty breathing, appears to be choking, or is giving the universal sign for choking (shown below), take the following steps.

    First Aid for Choking - The Universal Sign for Choking


    First Aid for Choking: Step-by-Step Instructions

    For Infants (1 year and under)

    1. Get consent from the parent or guardian, if present.
    2. Give them 5 firm blows to the mid-to-upper back with the base of your palm.
    3. If the object isn’t dislodged, turn the infant over by sandwiching them between your forearms; hold them on your arm with their head supported in your hand, keeping their head lower than their chest.
    4. Give 5 chest thrusts (using 2 fingers placed just below the nipple line).
    5. Repeat back blows and chest thrusts until the object is dislodged, the infant begins coughing or crying, or they become unconscious.
    6. If the infant becomes unconscious, place the infant on a firm, safe surface and begin CPR. Have someone call 9-1-1. If you are alone, give about two minutes of CPR before calling 9-1-1 yourself.


    For Adults and Children over 1 year

    1. For children, get consent from the parent or guardian, if present.
    2. Ask them quickly if they are choking. (This allows them to simply nod or shake their head, instead of trying to speak.)
    3. If they nod yes and/or can’t speak or cough, act quickly to help them.
    4. Give them 5 firm blows to the mid-to-upper back with the base of your palm.
    5. If the back blows don’t dislodge the object, continue with the following steps (the Heimlich maneuver).
    6. Stand behind the victim.
    7. Make a fist with one hand, placing the thumb side against the victim’s abdomen, above their belly button and below the ribs.
    8. Quickly thrust inward and upward into the abdomen (this action activates the diaphragm, forcing available air out of the lungs).
    9. Repeat thrusts until object is expelled or victim becomes unconscious.
    10. If the victim becomes unconscious, have someone call 9-1-1, and begin CPR—starting with looking for any objects blocking their airway.

    Heimlich maneuver

    If You’re Alone and You Begin Choking

    1. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have a land-line phone.
    2. Perform abdominal thrusts on yourself:
      1. Place a fist just above your belly button.
      2. Bend over a hard surface like a chair, countertop, or barstool.
      3. Using the surface for more power and stability, thrust your fist inward and upward to activate the diaphragm and expel air from your lungs and the object from your throat (you can also thrust your body forward onto your fist).
      4. Repeat.

    Although we hope you never have to put this information to use, knowing how to provide first aid for choking can help prevent needless fatalities.


    What about you? Have you ever helped someone who was choking?

    What experiences do you have with performing the Heimlich maneuver or having it performed on you?





    CPR, AED, and Basic First Aid booklet ($1.25 each from our online store)



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, First Aid, skills

  • First Aid Series Part One: Intro

    When was the last time you practiced any First Aid skills?

    About ten days ago I got a surprise practice when I had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on my nephew at a family reunion.

    We were attending a small-town parade—so small that the parade goes down main street one direction, turns around, and goes past again. It’s a great time, and the kids love it. (I'm not gonna lie--even though I'm an Urban Girl at heart, I love small towns. They're so charming and the people are almost always really friendly.) Out of nowhere my nephew made a couple of quick gagging/coughing sounds and spun around with wide eyes. Poor kid had a half-chewed salt-water taffy stuck in his throat. He managed to get out enough sound that his “I’m choking” could be understood, but sounded more like “Mchucke.”

    I didn’t react at first—I just stood there for a second. Then my dad said, “Do the Heimlich maneuver!” I still wasn't processing things completely, so I asked my nephew if he was okay—maybe he had coughed it out on his own?

    He shook his head. Nope, he wasn't okay. So I spun him around, did my best at placing my hands below his sternum, and gave it a go. He made a little gagging noise, coughed up the candy, and was completely fine. He went back to chasing down the candy projectiles that were coming from the floats and giving high fives to people in the parade.

    Portrait of a boy with red hair

    The whole thing was far less dramatic than you might expect. As I was getting ready to do the Heimlich maneuver, his mom commented from a few feet away, “You can probably just hit him on the back.” And that probably would have worked fine in this situation as a first attempt—I probably could have saved the Heimlich for a second or third attempt if a hefty swat or two between the shoulder blades didn't work. (In fact, that’s what you’re supposed to do first. More on that in an upcoming post.)

    That being said, maybe the reason it wasn't dramatic is because it worked—what if my family and I hadn't known what to do? What if no one around us at the parade knew what to do, either?

    That’s the idea behind this Public Service Announcement from an Ambulance corps in the UK. The statistics might be specific to the UK or a certain region (and the storyline is slightly depressing), but the message is applicable no matter where you live: just a small amount of  First Aid knowledge and preparation can help save a life.


    How much First Aid do you know? Are you First Aid or CPR Certified? Have you had to put your knowledge to use?

    --Urban Girl (Sarah)

    This post is Part One in a series related to First Aid knowledge and skills. Join us in learning about First Aid—and lend your experiences and knowledge to the discussion!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, First Aid, skills

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