Accidents occur even in our day-to-day lives. It is not just something that happens as a result of a natural disaster like an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane. Major wounds and cuts are of various types and can be caused by various factors. Incisions occur when the sharp ends of an object like a razor cuts the skin leading to bleeding. Abrasions occur when your skin scrapes against a rough or hard surface tearing the outer layer of the skin. While a laceration is a cut that goes deeper to the inner layer of the skin and is usually caused by handling knives, machinery, or tools. Punctures are wounds that are caused by sharp and pointed instruments like needles, knives, or bayonets. When neglected, these wounds can become dangerous and life-threatening.
When a family member or a friend has a severe wound, there are some basic actions you can take to help like:
- Placing the wounded person in a posture that will help to reduce the bleeding,
- Exposing the wound by either removing or cutting off the clothing without disturbing the newly forming blood clots,
- Gently removing any visible foreign particles embedded in the wound,
- Applying hard pressure, either directly on the wound or indirectly around it to arrest the bleeding after removing the foreign particle,
- Washing the wound and applying a clean dressing which is thick enough to reach above the surface of the skin,
- Using a splint to keep the affected part immobile if the wound is near a joint.
These are the common actions you can take to treat the top 5 most dangerous wounds. But there are certain specific ways in which wounds should be treated depending on their cause.
Although gunshot wounds are uncommon occurrences as compared to other types of wounds, I have given this top priority because it is the most dangerous kind. If the gunshot wound was accidental but severe, secure the gun, and take the wounded person for professional medical attention if he/she can walk till the car. If your companion was shot at intentionally, you need to first move yourself and the injured person to a safer place and hide. Once you are assured that the shooter is not in the vicinity anymore, you must dial 911 immediately and get help. But what can you do if you cannot get to safety quickly and the person is losing a lot of blood?! These are the step you need to take in the event of gunshot wounds:
- Stop the bleeding by applying strong pressure on the wound, maybe even with your knee,
- Dress the wound with any clean material like a laundered shirt, gauze (if available), or towel,
- Use a tourniquet to block the flow of blood around the wound,
- If the gunshot wound is in the chest or abdomen, you must first place a plastic sheet on the wound to prevent air from getting sucked into the wound, resulting in organ collapse. Remove the sheet if the person complains of shortness of breath or severe pain.
Call 911 if…there is no “if” about this type of wound. It is dangerous irrespective of which part of the body is affected. So dialing for professional help is a must unless the bullet just scraped past and the wound is superficial.
Severely bleeding cuts and punctures
Sometimes wounds and cuts are so deep that the bleeding does not stop naturally. Prolonged loss of blood is imminent death! So if your wounds or those of your companion continue oozing a lot of blood, you will need more than just a small bandage. So you should:
Adjust the posture of the person so that the bleeding wound is an elevated position in relation to the heart. Apply pressure on the cut or wound with a clean material like a piece of cloth, gauze, or tissue. If the material gets soaked with the blood, do not remove it from the injury. Instead, add more material over the first one. Apply a tourniquet if the bleeding does not stop after 3-5 minutes.
Call 911 when:
- The bleeding does not stop even with pressure or a tourniquet
- If the wound continues bleeding even after 10 minutes
- When the wound is located in the chest or abdomen
- If you suspect there might be an internal injury
- When the blood spurts out in a rush.
Abrasions and lacerations
Although these types of wounds may sound minor and apparently not dangerous, they should not be left to heal naturally. At times, they can become infected and can cause other distressing symptoms. An ordinary abrasion or laceration can become dangerous if you are a confirmed diabetic. This is because even the small wounds of diabetic patients take longer to heal. If neglected and left to heal naturally, the abrasions or lacerations can get infected and form pus. Then you may suffer from fever, extreme pain, and weakness. Wounds of diabetics are known to form gangrene which has no cure and needs an amputation!
So it is best to treat these apparently not-so-dangerous wounds quickly. To treat the abrasions/lacerations at home, wash the affected area thoroughly under running water. Dab it dry and apply an anti-bacterial/anti-fungal lotion on the affected part to prevent it from becoming infected.
No need to call 911. These wounds can be treated easily at home, but the key factor is a quick action and regular dressing. If you experience pain then it could be pus formation. In which case, you will have to visit the clinic and get it treated professionally.
Open wounds caused by bites
Dogs or cats who are lost and afraid will bite the rescuer at times. You may have also heard stories of how the household pet has severely bitten the owner! Being animals, their behavior can be unpredictable. So keeping a few essentials ready to treat such wounds is necessary. If you or any member of your family is bitten by a dog or a cat you must:
- Wash the wound thoroughly under running water to get rid of any traces of the pet’s saliva that could be on the open wound,
- Arrange the posture of the person in such a way that the bitten part of the body is lower than the rest of the body. It should not be higher like in the case of a severely bleeding cut or puncture. The puncture mark left by the animal’s teeth will be smaller. If you have potassium soda in the first aid kit, make a weak solution and apply on the wound. Dress the bite wound with clean gauze.
Note: Please ensure that the person who is bitten takes a precautionary anti-rabies shot.
Call 911 if: The bites are deep, large, and/or several in number and are bleeding profusely. Such a situation will require quick professional help.
We are wounded quite often during the course of our normal duties. Wounds can occur as a result of handling tools, machinery, knives, or due to animal bites, or even gunshots. Whether you live in the countryside or in a metropolis, you need to stock a few items in your first aid kit to deal with such eventualities till professional help is available. In a crisis situation like a natural calamity, the 911 response time might get delayed, which might mean a matter of life and death for the wounded person. But if you have a few essentials like medicated cotton, antiseptic, gauze, bandages, potassium soda, etc. in your kit, you can deal with these wounds and prevent them from becoming dangerous and life-threatening.