Author note : Everything mentioned here is not to be substituted for medical advise .
Let’s open this by saying if it is a serious injury or an overdose you need to immediately seek medical advice from A&E, 911, 999 or 112.
Be aware of first aid and have a well stocked kit.
Make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Work on using your distraction and coping techniques
You deserve professional care before you harm yourself – you can present to A&E without an injury
How to seek medical help?
Call the emergency services immediately
For more minor injuries see your doctor, walk in clinics
The most important message to take from reading this is if you are ever in any doubts as to how serious the injury is always seek medical advice.
A burn is where tissue damage occurs after being exposed to heat, cold, electricity or chemicals.
There are 3 types of burns that can occur
First degree-superficial - Minor burns which redden the skin – e.g. sun burn – can usually be treated at home
Signs and Symptoms
Reddens the skin
Area feeling slightly warmer than other areas of the body
Skin will be soft
Moderate to mild pain that will leave fairly quickly
Second degree- Partial thickness- moderate in severity - causes reddening of the skin and blistering
Signs and symptoms
Redness at and around the surrounding area
Skin will be soft
Blisters will be filled with a clear / yellow fluid
Peeling skin – develop over time
Severe or moderate pain that will go away within a few days.
Third degree-full thickness- severe - can involve charring or whitening of the skin–has penetrated through the entire layer of skin – For all full thickness burns, medical aid must be sought –
Signs and symptoms
White of charring of the skin – with redness around it
Skin can feel hard, tough or leather like to the touch
Peeling skin – will happen very soon after burn
Minimal or no pain at the injury site due to nerve damage
Surrounding area may be severely painful
4th degree burns:
In some countries 4th degree burns which impact the skin and fat. Also underlying muscles, ligaments, organs and ligaments. This type of burn is very rare although can happen in thermal burns, entry and exit points of electrical shock and chemical burns.
If in doubt about a burn, please seek immediate assistance
Remove the source of the burn
Burns need to be run under cold running water for at least 15 minutes (time it)
Do not put any creams, oils, butter or grease near a burn
Please do not burst blisters as this can be a pathway for infection – If blistered dress with a light non stick sterile dressing
Remove jewellery from affected area
Keep the person warm while cooling the burn
Do not use ice on a burn
Do not remove anything stuck or embedded
Call an ambulance or A&E
Involved in a building / car fire.
A large burn
Altered level of response. E.g. erratic behaviour, not responsive to questions
The person is under 12, elderly or weakened
Many wounds can be dealt with at home – particularly superficial ones.
For superficial wounds that are not bleeding
Clean the area with an antiseptic wipe and apply a dressing.
(If no antiseptic wipes – use clean water, wound wash or a mild anti bacterial soap. Do not scrub the wound as this may dislodge coagulated blood-when your blood cells clot over the wound. )
Do not use homemade products – saltwater. Also do not sue iodine directly on a wound as they can be detrimental to healing and can increase scaring.
Wound needs to be kept clean and dry, when dressing or changing wounds always remember to wash hands.
Do not pick the wound or touch it unnecessarily.
For a wound that is bleeding:
Apply pressure on the wound with a clean, absorbent – non sticky / non disintegrating item- Avoid cotton wool, toilet paper and tissues – Gauze pads and clean towels are acceptable.
Once pressure is applied do not remove the pad for 10 minutes, if blood appears through pad apply additional pads on top. Remember to elevate the area above the heart only if there is no obvious sign of fracture.
If after 10 minutes the wound is still bleeding or you are experiencing symptoms of shock, urgent medical assistance is requiring.
Any wound that spurts blood needs to be evaluated by a doctor ASAP.
Determine if the wound may need stitches or not. A wound may need stitches if;
It is still bleeding after 10 minutes of pressure.
The edges of the wound gape more than 1cm apart.
You can see stringy stuff or yellowish bubbly stuff inside the wound.
The wound is on your lower leg.
The wound is on a joint, or an area where the skin is pulled a lot.
If you work in a job where you get dirty and the wound has a high chance of getting contaminated.
Stitches usually need to be placed within 12 hoursGetting medical care
If nerves or tendons have been affected , the injury is on a joint
Something is embedded in the wound - leave in place- do not remove
The wound is in the genitals , mouth , hand or face .
The wound does not heal properly or shows sign of infection
Make sure anything you cut with is clean - use new blades
Never cut the wrist over any blood vessels
Do not cut deeply .
Sprains / strains
A sprain is where damage is caused to the ligament by overstretching. Sprains are associated with joints: usually ankles, wrists, knees, elbows and fingers. It is common for a sprain to occur alongside a fracture or strain but a sprain can occur without any fracture.
A strain on the other hand occurs when a muscle is overstretched. This can occur to any muscle in the body – the saying pulled muscle is in relation to a strain.
Signs and symptoms of a strain or sprain
Loss of movement or difficulty in movement
Possible weakness in the affected limb
Treatment of strains and sprains:RICE
It is essential to protect the area from further injury
Rest – rest the injured area
Ice- Ice the injury for no more than 20 minutes every hour
Compression – Bandaging – reduces swelling- do not apply the bandage too tightly as this can compromise blood flow
Elevation – raise the affected area above the heart
It is advisable to be seen at your doctors or in your local A&E department, in particular if symptoms as above are severe
A fracture is a break or crack in a bone – there are numerous different types of fractures. Fractures always need to be treated and reviewed immediately but A&E.
Signs and symptoms of a fracture
Loss of moving
Crepitice –where you can hear the bone moving within the skin
Bone protruding through the skin
Decreased range of movement
Nausea and or vomiting from pain and shock
If suspected broken ribs, difficulty breathing or pain when breathing.
Needs to be seen by a doctor to ensure the correct healing of the bone
If the limb is not straight, please do not try to straighten it
If there is a bone protruding through the skin, do not push it back into the limb. Do not walk on a suspected leg fracture
If a person cannot move , is in too much pain , has any pain , neck , pelvic fractures , moderate or severe bleeding , open fracture where the bone protrudes or multiple injuries and ambulance needs to be called
RICE as described with sprains or strains is to be used while awaiting medical attention.
Severe cuts, burns or injuries can cause the body to go into a physiological shock which in turn can lead to a reduction in blood flow. If untreated, shock can lead to a collapse, coma and death.
Signs and symptoms of shock
Faint, weak pulse
Dizziness, faintness and nauseous
Rapid, shallow breathing
Rare occasions blue lips
Cold clammy skin
Treatment of shock:
Seek immediate help – call the emergency services
Lay flat and immediately elevate the legs
If with some keep them comfortable and reassure
If casualty feels cool, cover him or her with a blanket
If a wound is bleeding severely, apply pressure
Do not eat or drink
If you are alone, try and let your door open to allow emergency personal access to your home
Don’t raise the head
Do not eat or drink
Infection can occur when a contaminant enters a wound or injury. The contaminant can be bacteria, virus, and parasites. An infection occurs when a contaminant enters the body and overwhelms the body’s natural defences.
Signs and Symptoms of infection
Redness or swelling around the wound
Pus drainage- can be thick white, brown, green o bloody
Odour coming from the wound
For more severe infections
Increase in wound size
Red streaks that move towards the heart from the wound
Of course in an ideal world, the best treatment is prevention of an infection
Contact your doctor or A&E and get an immediate appointment
Do not take old antibiotics, or try and drain wounds; do not place any ointments, alcohol on the infection.
As previously stated , this advise does not substitute medical advise .
Self-Poisoning – Where someone purposely exposes themselves to a poisonous substance as a method of self harm or suicide.
Overdose – When someone takes more than the daily recommended dose for a medication or substance it is considered an overdose. This may be done by accident, or as a method of self harm or suicide.
Anytime you have taken an overdose or self poisoning, intentional or not, you should get checked out by a doctor.
The signs and symptoms of self-poisoning or an overdose will vary depending on the substance taken. However the following are some general signs and symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms
Empty medication containers/pill bottles
Empty containers of things that are poisonous.
Vomit with pills in it.
Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.
Chest pain or difficulty breathing.
Blurred visions, slurred speech, lack of coordination or balance.
Decreased level of consciousness.
Not all substances will cause symptoms to appear right away. Some substances can stay in your system for days, or the damage can continue for days without you even knowing it. Just because someone feels fine after an overdose or self-poisoning DOES NOT mean that there was no damage to their system.
If you or someone you know has taken an overdose or self-poisoning;
Write down what medication you’ve taken, including the number of tablets and dosage, and also if you have drunk any alcohol.
DO NOT give ANYTHING by mouth.
DO NOT Sleep
DO NOT Drive
DO NOT encourage someone to throw up if they are suspected of consuming a liquid poison or medication.
DO NOT encourage someone to throw up if they have a decreased level of consciousness.
DO encourage them to throw up if they have taken a solid substance and are fully awake.
DO call your doctor, A&E, emergency services.
DO find someone to take you to the appropriate medical facility as directed by the medical professional you spoke with at one of the above numbers.
You might feel physically well, but the effects of an overdose can be delayed and fatal.
There are no safe limits to self-poisoning. Not seeking medical help can result in serious, long-term, irreversible damage to your health, including death.
Call an ambulance immediately if someone has overdosed or been poisoned and
They are combative
They can't walk or move without assistance
They are having seizures
They are unconscious or have a decreased level of consciousness
They have stopped breathing
When you go to the doctor’s or hospital you should bring the bottles or containers that the substance was in