Keeping your children and family safe is one of the most important priorities we can have as a parent and spouse. Each change in season brings new dangers, including heat exhaustion, hypothermia, burns, and poison ivy. As a protector of the family, it's important to understand first aid safety and have the proper first aid kit on hand to tend to your loved ones in a time of need. Below are four common illnesses that can occur in the changing seasons and instructions on how to treat them using proper first aid safety.
Heat Exhaustion First AidWhat It Is: Heat exhaustion is an over-tiring of the body due to excess activity in hot and/or humid weather. Failure to treat heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition that can cause permanent brain damage.
- Cool, clammy skin
- Persistent and profuse sweating
- Severe headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive thirst
- Feeling "drained" and loss of energy
- Stop physical activity entirely and find a shady spot to rest.
- Remove any excess clothing
- Drink plenty of water to ensure hydration
- Apply an ice pack wrapped in a triangular bandage to the back of the neck or chest
Hypothermia First AidWhat It Is:Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person's core body temperature drops below normal. People can get hypothermia even on a hot day under the right conditions. Take extra care when swimming in cold mountain lakes or streams.
- Extreme shivering and chattering teeth
- Slurred speech
- Unnaturally pale or pinkish skin tone
- Slow pulse
- Tense muscles
- Move to a warm, dry shelter immediately
- Block wind if possible
- Remove any wet or sweat-soaked clothes
- Wrap victim in a warm, dry blanket or sleeping bag
- Use body heat to warm person—skin to skin contact is best
- Offer warm drinks but never alcohol
- Focus on warming the head and trunk first
Burns First AidWhat It Is:Sunburns are the most common type of burns. The best treatment for sunburn is prevention. Wear sun black whenever going outdoors, and shade skin with clothing when possible. Other burns occur when skin is exposed to high heat such as when cooking over a fire.
- For sunburn, an initial feeling of excessive heat on the skin, often described as a "cooking" sensation
- Bright red skin
- Cool the skin down as fast as possible, but avoid using ice
- If possible, submerge the burned area in cool water for at least 15 minutes
- Leave any blisters intact
- Use burn spray and pain reliever pills to lesson discomfort
- Avoid greasy ointments as they may make the burn worse
- Remove any burnt clothing unless it is stuck to the skin
- Cover the burn in a light non-stick dressing
Poison Ivy First AidWhat It Is:A red, weepy rash caused by an allergic reaction after skin contact with poison ivy or another plant such as Poison Oak or Poison Sumac. Again, prevention is the best medicine. Know what dangerous plants grow in your area and what they look like so you can avoid them.
- Red scaly patches on skin that are extremely itchy after skin contact with plant
- Rash that quickly worsens into large blisters that weep a clear fluid
- Remove all clothing that may have come in contact with plant
- Wash skin and clothes with soap and water to remove plant oils
- Be careful not to spread oils to areas of unaffected skin—pay particular attention to fingernails
- Treat itchy skin with topical anti-histamine lotions and cool compresses
- Try to avoid sweating or getting too hot
- Take oral anti-histamines if needed
- Cover weeping blisters with clean gauze bandages
In any situation, it's important to stay calm and treat your loved one as necessary using first aid safety. In all cases, contact your physician and in emergencies, go to your nearest hospital or doctor's office.