Monday, November 5, 2007

Electric shock

The human body conducts electricity. If any part of the body receives an electric shock, the electricity will flow through the tissues with little obstruction.

Depending on the length and severity of the shock, injuries can include:
Burns to the skin
Burns to internal tissues
Electrical interference and/or damage to the heart, which could cause the heart to stop or beat erratically.
It is vital to disconnect the power supply before trying to help a victim of electric shock.

Symptoms of electric shock
The typical symptoms of an electric shock include:
Difficulties in breathing or no breathing at all
A weak, erratic pulse or no pulse at all
Burns, particularly entrance and exit burns (where the electricity entered and left the body)
Sudden onset of cardiac arrest.
Causes of electric shock
Some of the causes of electric shock include:
Faulty appliances
Damaged or frayed cords or extension leads
Electrical appliances coming in contact with water
Incorrect or deteriorated household wiring
Downed power lines
Lightning strike.
How to help a victim of electric shock
The first thing you must do is disconnect the power supply. Don’t even touch the victim until you are sure the power supply is turned off. Be especially careful in wet areas, such as bathrooms, since water conducts electricity.

First aid includes:
Check for a response and breathing. If necessary, start resuscitating the victim.
Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. If you are unsure on resuscitation techniques, the ambulance call-taker will give you easy-to-follow instructions over the telephone, so you can increase the patient’s chances of survival until the ambulance arrives.
If the breathing is steady and the person is responsive, attend to injuries. Cool the burns and cover with dressings that won’t stick. Never put ointments or oils onto burns. If the victim has fallen from a height, only move them if there is chance of further danger (such as falling objects). Try not to move them unnecessarily in case of spinal injuries.
Talk calmly and reassuringly to the conscious victim.
Downed power lines
Sometimes, power lines are downed in car accidents. The lines may drape over the vehicles. The tyres act as insulation, so urge the victims to remain inside the car where they will be safe from electric shock. Do not approach the scene until it has been declared safe by the proper authorities. Stand well back and try to encourage any other bystanders to keep a distance of at least six metres.

Safety tips around the home
You can reduce the risk of electric shock at home by taking a few precautions, including:
Always hire a licensed electrician for all wiring jobs.
Don’t use extension leads or appliances if the cords are damaged or frayed.
Don’t remove a plug from a power point by pulling on the cord; pull the plug instead.
Keep electrical appliances away from wet areas.
Have safety switches installed by an electrician.
Buy portable power boards with built-in safety switches.
How a safety switch works
A safety switch, or residual current device, is designed to save lives by monitoring power flow and making sure it is even. This is different to a circuit breaker, which is designed to protect household wiring from power surges.

A safety switch is intended to trip out an electricity supply in the event of a current flow to earth. It can provide protection from harmful electric shocks in situations where a person comes into contact with a live electrical circuit and provides a path to earth. Typical examples of this occurring are with the use of faulty electrical leads and faulty appliances. These switches operate in one thirty-thousandth of a second.

Where to get help
In emergencies, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance
Things to remember
The human body conducts electricity.
Disconnect the power supply before trying to help a victim of electric shock.
Always hire a licensed electrician for all wiring jobs around the home.

Accidents and first aid

In the UK, every year, hundreds of thousands of people die or are seriously injured in accidents. However, many deaths, resulting from accidents, could be prevented if first aid was given at the scene, before emergency services arrive.

Emergency first aid is the treatment of any injury or sudden illness, before professional medical help can be provided. The aim is to prevent the condition worsening, protect from further harm, aid recovery and preserve life.

First aid is not medical treatment and cannot be compared with what a doctor would do. It simply involves making common sense decisions in an injured persons best interest.

Keep a first aid kit handy

In case of emergency, a well-stocked first aid kit could be a lifesaver. Keep one in your home, in your car, and even at work. And keep one handy if you are hiking, biking, camping or boating.

Whether you buy a first aid kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you may need. The American Red Cross suggests a first aid kit contain: antiseptic ointment, blanket, cold pack, disposable gloves, assorted band-aids, adhesive tape, gauze pads, roller gauze, triangular bandage, hand cleaner, plastic bags, scissors, tweezers, a small flashlight and extra batteries, and activated charcoal.
Remember to include any personal items, such as medications and emergency phone numbers, or other items suggested by your doctor. Check the kit regularly. Make sure the flashlight batteries work. Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents. Store your first aid kit in a secure place out of the reach of young children.

Keep homes safe for visiting kids

Guns and poisonous materials are more likely to be improperly stored in homes where young children are only visitors, says a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

The survey of 1,003 U.S. homes found that household chemicals were stored in places accessible to children in 74 percent of homes where children were only visitors, compared with 55 percent of homes where children lived.
It also found that guns were kept unlocked in 56 percent of homes where children visited, compared with a third of homes where children lived.

Odds are greater
Overall, the odds of reported unlocked storage of chemicals and guns were 2.5 times greater in homes where young children visited than in homes where young children lived.

The study appears in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"With the holidays approaching, people need to be much more careful in keeping potentially lethal compounds and firearms safely secured. Every year, preventable tragedies happen because people forget how children like to explore and get into things and how vulnerable they are to accidents," study author Dr. Tamera Coyne-Beasley, an associate professor of pediatrics and medicine, said in a prepared statement.

Mouth-to-mouth no help?

Adding mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to chest compression hurt, rather than helped, the survival of people who suffered cardiac arrest, a Japanese study found.

The study examined more than 4 000 adults who got emergency treatment from bystanders when they collapsed because their hearts stopped beating. The result: better neurological function in 10.1 percent of those who had only chest compression that started within four minutes of cardiac arrest, compared to 5.1 percent of those who also were given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Similar benefits for chest compression alone were found for people who suffered abnormal heart rhythms and those with the breathing difficulty called apnoea.
No better with mouth-to-mouth
"However, there was no evidence of any benefit from the addition of mouth-to-mouth ventilation in any subgroup," the researchers reported.

The findings are published in the March 17 issue of the British journal The Lancet.

The report could lead to a further change in American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), said Dr Gordon Ewy, director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Centre, who has been proposing such a change for years. He wrote an editorial accompanying the journal report.

"Based on research conducted in our experimental resuscitation laboratory, we have been advocating chest compression alone for cardiac arrest," Ewy said. "We have done that because our surveys indicated that people are more likely to do bystander resuscitation if they have to do chest compression only, rather than having to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."
Resistance to mouth-to-mouth
Bystanders hesitate to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation partly because they dislike the physical contact and potential risk of infectious disease, and partly because "it is a very complex psychomotor skill, and people are afraid that they might hurt the person," Ewy said.

As a result, he said, "three out of every four people who witness cardiac arrests won't do bystander CPR."

And when mouth-to-mouth ventilation is given, chest compression has to be stopped momentarily, Ewy said, adding, "You're only pressing on the chest for half the time."

The US heart association already appears to be leaning in that direction. It updated its CPR guidelines in November 2005, changing the ratio to 30 compressions for every two breaths, from the old ratio of two breaths for every 15 compressions.

"This article is extremely important, because it clearly shows what we've shown in our laboratory, that chest compression is better, and people are dramatically more likely to do that," Ewy said.

Whether the CPR guidelines are changed because of this study is almost beside the point, said Dr Lance Becker, director of the University of Pennsylvania Centre for Resuscitation Science and a past chairman of the American Heart Association's Basic Life Support Committee.
Anything will help
"The message of the study is that any CPR is better than no CPR, and that any attempt at resuscitation is better than doing nothing," Becker said. "The good news for people is that they can feel comfortable if they do anything. Anything they do is going to help somebody."

For bystanders who hesitate to help when they see someone collapse, because they are unsure about mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Becker said: "If you're not sure you can do it very well, don't do it. But do chest compression. Whether the guidelines will change, I don't know, but the guidelines say if you feel uncomfortable with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, then just do chest compression."

Broken Bones

What did I do?

Your body consists of over 200 bones of all different shapes and sizes. All of these bones in addition to muscles and the tendons and ligaments that put them together form the skeleton, which serves to protect many of the organs your body uses to function normally. Bones are dense and very strong, and they tend not to break easily, except in elderly people who have developed osteoperosis, a gradual weakening of the bones. Bone injuries are often quite painfull, and they may bleed, as all bones have an ample amount of blood and nerves. The two types of bone injuries are fractures, which may be open or closed, and dislocations, which involve muscles and joints as well. The body has over 600 muscles, which are soft tissue. Injuries to the brain, the spinal cord or nerves can affect a person's muscle control, and when a muscle is injured, a nearby muscle may take over for the injured one. A joint is formed where the ends of two or more bones come together in one place. The bones are held together by ligaments, which tear when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of movement. A sprain is the tearing of ligaments at a joint. A strain is a stretching and/or tearing of muscles or tendons.

An open fracture occurs when an arm or a leg twists in such a way that the broken bone ends tear through the skin, causing an open wound. In a closed fracture the skin is not broken; this type of fracture is much more common than an open fracture. An open fracture brings with it a chance of infection and also severe bleeding. Fractures can be life-threatening if they sever an artery, affect breathing, or occur in very large bones such as the femur in the thigh. A motor vehicle accident or any fall from a height may cause a fracture.

A dislocation is typically more noticeable than a fracture. A dislocation occurs when a bone moves away from its normal position at a joint. A violent force tears the ligaments that hold the bone in place at a joint, and the joint will no longer function. Usually, the displaced bone causes an obviously abnormal bump, ridge or hollow.

Sprains may swell but typically heal quickly. Pain may be minimal and the victim may be active soon, in which case the joint won't heal properly and will remain weak. It is likely to be reinjured more severely, possibly involving a fracture or dislocation of the bones at the joint. The most easily injured joints are at the ankle, knee, wrist and fingers.

Strains are frequently caused by lifting a very heavy object or working a muscle too hard. They usually involve muscles in the neck, back, thigh or back of the lower leg. Strains tend to reoccur, especially those located in the neck or back.

An x ray is the best way to assess the extent of damage to a bone, muscle or joint. However, you may be able to judge how serious the injury is by its appearance. The area may be red, bruised, swollen, twisted, or have bumps, ridges or hollows. The area may be painful to touch as well as to move, or the victim may be unable to move it. If you compare an injured body part with an uninjured one, you may be able to locate any abnormalities; this works well with an arm, a leg, a shoulder, a get the idea. Sometimes the victim may have heard a snap, crackle or a pop when the injury occurred, or he or she may feel bones grating. Also, the victim's hands and fingers or feet and toes may tingle or feel numb.