Our Lake Gaston summer season of 2022 is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down when it comes to the health and welfare of our friends and family. Stuff still happens like cuts and bruises, snake bites and with the heat wave we had, heat exhaustion.
Now is a good time to check your first aid kit and if you don’t have one, put one together. Maybe even two, one for the dock and one on your boat. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a plastic box with bandages, antiseptic wipes, scissors, gauze and elastic bandages. A cooler for ice is also a good idea for the boat. All these items should prepare you for most incidents that may happen. Oh yes, and don’t forget to carry a fully charged phone when you are out on the water.
Every year there are incidents of snake bites. We live in a beautiful wooded area so we have to respect our animal inhabitants. It is best to avoid tall grassy areas and thick wooded trails. If you or someone with you does have the misfortune to be bit, do you know what to do?
• First, calm the person down. The more they scream, the more the blood circulates. It may not have been poisonous. If you did not get a good look at the snake, look at the bite. Typical symptoms of the bite from a nonvenomous snake are pain and scratches at the site. A venomous snake leaves side by side puncture wounds where the fangs went in, there is severe burning pain at the site within 15 to 30 minutes and swelling and discoloration occur. Either way, it is probably a good idea to seek medical attention. In the meantime, administer first aid. Remove jewelry and tight clothing (most bites are on extremities) before swelling occurs. Position the person, if possible, so that the bite is at or below the level of the heart. Clean the wound with soap and water. Cover it with a clean, dry dressing. Do not use a tourniquet or apply ice. Do not cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom.
Serious bleeding cuts are also pretty common with all the work it takes to keep up our homes and grounds. There are some dos and don’ts when this occurs, also.
• Calm the person down as agitation makes the wound bleed more. Stop the bleeding by placing a sterile bandage or clean cloth on the wound and pressing firmly with your palm, applying constant pressure until the bleeding stops. Maintain pressure by placing a thick layer of bandage or cloth on the wound and secure it with adhesive tape or your hand. If possible, raise an injured limb above the level of the heart. Do not remove the bandage. Do not be nosey! If the bleeding seeps through the bandage, add another bandage on top of it and keep pressing firmly. Get the person to an emergency room as soon as possible. They may need stitches, antibiotics, or a tetanus shot.
Heat exhaustion can be very dangerous if not treated properly. Here are some tips on how to recognize it and how to treat it.
• Get the person out of the sun where possible. Lay them down and elevate the legs and feet slightly. Remove tight clothing. Cool them by placing cool wet cloths on the face, armpits, back of neck, and groin area. Sponge the skin. Do not place ice directly on the skin. Fan the person. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
To learn more skills for medical emergencies the Lake Gaston 911 Community Task Force offers workshops on CPR/First Aid/AED use. This two-hour workshop is free to the public. There is no testing and you will have a better idea of what to do during a first aid emergency. The next workshop is September 6, from 10am to 12 noon at the Lake Gaston Lions Club Henrico, North Carolina. You can register to attend by either calling Peggy at 252-308-9588 or emailing email@example.com. Registration deadline is September 1st.