First Aid for Heat Injuries

As we approach the end of summer I hope we haven’t seen the last of the sun.  This week I thought I would blog about first aid for heat injuries.

 

Burns

The immediate first aid for burns is important.  These are things to do in the first moments after a burn:-

  • Remove any clothing that isn’t stuck
  • Cool the area for at least 10 minutes under cold running water
  • Dress the area as needed.  Cling film makes an excellent temporary burns dressing.  NB Lay the cling film in strips onto the burn rather than wrapping it around

 

Seek advice if:-
  • The casualty is a child
  • The size of the burn is greater than 1 inch square
  • The burn extends the whole way around a limb
  • The burn involves the hands, feet, face or genitals
  • Any area of the burn appears to be full thickness e.g.
    • The skin is charred or waxy
    • The top layers of skin have been burned away
    • The burn is not painful – nerve endings can be damaged and a non painful burn can be a sign of full thickness

 

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body’s core temperature rises to above 38 degrees.  It is caused by excessive sweating and therefore loss of water and salts.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:-
  • Person may say they feel cold when they’re hot to touch
  • Pale, sweaty skin
  • Fast, weak pulse and breathing
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Cramps

 

Treatment:-
  • Observe for heat stroke and treat as necessary
  • Move them to a cool place
  • Remove any additional clothing
  • Give plenty of water to re-hydrate. Re-hydration drinks that include electrolytes are best but if not available use water
  • Seek advice from a health professional if concerned

 

Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke is a serious condition.  The body is unable to control the body’s temperature and it can rise to excessive levels of over 40 degrees.

Signs of Heat Stroke:-
  • Flushed, hot and dry skin – no sweating
  • Strong, fast pulse
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Severe confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Becoming drowsy

 

Treatment:-
  • Move the casualty to a cool shaded area
  • Contact Emergency Services if they don’t respond to treatment
  • Strip unnecessary clothing
  • Cool them rapidly using whatever methods you have available
    • Use sponges or wet flannels etc to dampen the skin
    • Fan whilst skin is moist to further reduce temperature
    • Give them plenty to drink – water or rehydration drinks

If they don’t respond to treatment within 30 minutes seek advice from a health professional.

There’s further information and advice here from NHS Choices.

 

I hope you found this useful and have enjoyed a happy and safe summer.

 

You may also like:-

Top Tips for Summer First Aid

First Aid for Camping

First Aid for Burns