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Always Be Prepared: First Aid & Injury Prevention

July 7, 2016 11:59 AM with Dr. Brigham Temple

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Once the weather is nice, people often feel more adventurous and are ready to plan outdoor activities like playing sports, setting off fireworks and swimming. It’s not hard to imagine why summertime shows an increase in injuries. When burns, scrapes, broken bones and more are all potential results of your activities, not only is it important to learn about injury prevention, but it’s also best to be ready for anything. Join Dr. Brigham Temple, Director of Emergency Preparedness within the department of Emergency Medicine for a chat on safety preparation; submit your questions about first aid, easy ways to prevent injury during your favorite activities and what you should do in an emergency situation.

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Kathryn (Moderator) - 12:00 PM:
Our first aid and safety tips chat is now open. You can submit questions at any time during our chat.

  Dina (Chicago, IL) - 12:00 PM:
Air is good for scrapes and healing cuts, but so is pressure. How long after rinsing an area should a site be bandaged, and then left open to air?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
That is a very good question. It depends on the depth of the scrape or cut. Most scrapes should be covered for 2-3 days after the injury to allow for protection and to prevent infection. Deeper cuts or scrapes may need to be covered for a longer period of time.

  Carrie (Evanston, IL) - 12:03 PM:
What should I do if someone is choking, besides the Heimlich maneuver?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Assuming that the person is an adult, the Heimlich maneuver is the appropriate action. Consider having another person call 911, as the person may need further emergency medical attention.

  Nicole (Libertyville, IL) - 12:06 PM:
I hear of many accidents that happen at playgrounds. What kind of precautions can we take with kids to prevent injuries (or for us adults)?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Injury prevention at playgrounds is not always easy. As a father of 3 boys and a physician, even my children have taken a few tumbles on playgrounds. The key for injury prevention is to supervise younger children closely. Falls from heights are the greatest risk for young children. Until strength, coordination and reflexes are more developed, keep close contact with younger children.

  Jessica (Evanston, IL) - 12:10 PM:
I've seen recent news stories about a toxic "wild parsnip" plant that is spreading across the Midwest with sap that can cause severe allergic reactions when exposed to skin, and you can end up in the ER. What should we do before we go to the ER if we unknowingly touch it and get a reaction? Is rinsing with water a bad idea? Have you seen any cases in the ER this summer?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Plant exposures are common in the summer months in the Midwest. Whether it be poison ivy or any other plants, these exposures can result in skin reactions. Washing the skin with soap and water is a good idea. Getting plant oils off the skin as soon as possible is important. No cases of wild parsnip yet in the ER or in the Immediate Care Centers that I am aware of, but I'm sure we will see some.

  Alysa (Chicago, IL) - 12:14 PM:
When riding a bike, is it recommended to wear just a helmet, or also knee and elbow pads?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Always wear a helmet. I can't stress this enough. Whether it is a child who is learning or a competitive cyclist, everyone should wear a helmet. Padding on the kneee and elbows are a good idea for children as long as the pads do not strike the bike frame while pedaling.

  Nancy (Wilmette, IL) - 12:18 PM:
I sometimes get really big blisters after wearing sandals during the summer (they sometimes slip and roll my ankle too). Are these types of shoes unsafe for the feet?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Good footwear depends on the activity and the shape of your feet. If you are getting blisters from sandals, then you should look for a sandal with a shaped foot bed. Blisters come from material rubbing repetitively on your skin. Shaped foot beds will prevent this from happening. Sport sandals also have straps that keep your foot in place better than flip-flops. Choose your footwear based on your activity, and you can prevent foot injuries better.

  Carol (Elgin, IL) - 12:23 PM:
My family has bonfires throughout the summer, and I heard these have a risk of smoke inhalation if you’re in the wrong place. Is that true? Can I prevent this?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Open fires, such as bonfires, should not cause significant smoke inhalation. Maintaining an appropriate distance from a bonfire will minimize smoke exposure. If you or someone in your family suffers from asthma or other lung diseases, any smoke exposure may cause a flare up, so they should take extra caution around an open fire.

  Katie (Evanston, IL) - 12:27 PM:
I like to run outside, and recently, I felt like I was getting really lightheaded and I got sick later on. Are there any reasons why this might have happened?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
There are several reasons that people get lightheaded with exercise. Inadequate hydration is the most likely cause. If this happened only one time, I would make sure that you pre-hydrate 1 hour before exercise, and continue hydration during and after exercise. See if this make a difference in how you feel. If you develop any symptoms of chest pain, heart palpitations or shortness of breath, then I would advise that you see your NorthShore Primary Care physician for an examination before further exercise.

  Laura (Chicago, IL) - 12:31 PM:
In your opinion, what are the absolute essentials to keep in a first aid kit at home?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
This a great question. I keep a first aid kit in my car and my house. Each one contains various sizes of bandages, antibiotic ointment, diphenhydramine, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, alcohol swabs for cleaning and wipes for wound cleaning. As a physician who works with youth groups and scout troops, I keep ace wraps and larger bandages with a splint as well. At home, emergency medications and supplies for wounds should be enough.

  Eve (Glenview, IL) - 12:36 PM:
There’s been a lot of news lately about burns from holiday celebrations – what’s the best way to handle these burns? Do you always need to go to the emergency room to take care of them?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
In general, burn care should include immediately cleaning the skin with cool water and then applying ice pack to the area. As long as the skin is intact, meaning that there is no bleeding, wound care can be started at home. Burns on the face, hands, feet and large areas of the body should be seen by a physician immediately. If burns are on small areas without blistering, then continuing ice therapy and topical antibiotic ointment may suffice. When in doubt, see a physician.

  Allison (Evanston, IL) - 12:42 PM:
Since my little ones love to play outside, I try to be really prepared in case an emergency happens. Is there anything I can do if one of them broke a bone (before heading to the ER)?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Most fractures in children involve wrists, elbows, fingers and ankles. If you have a wrap to apply to immobilize the injured area, this will provide some comfort. Pain comes from movement of the injury. Applying ice to the area and giving a dose of acetaminophen may also help ease the pain while you are traveling to the ER or an Immediate Care center.

  Larry (Prospect Heights, IL) - 12:45 PM:
Is there a way to tell if you have a concussion? I like to go on climbs, and have bumped my head on rocks before, but I always feel fine afterwards.
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, feeling unsteady and confusion. Concussions can occur from minor blows or from more forceful mechanisms. If you are rock climbing, consider wearing a helmet for protection.

  Harry (Skokie, IL) - 12:49 PM:
Sometimes when I walk on trails, I take a spill. Is there a good way to fall so I don’t break something?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Go with the flow. Any fall can result in an injury; however, you can limit injury by going with your momentum. Rolling though the fall will re-channel the force of the fall and may prevent injury. As always, if you have pre-existing health conditions, such as a back or neck problem, you want to prevent exposing those areas to new injury or aggravating the current condition.

  Marissa (Chicago, IL) - 12:54 PM:
Is it possible to get burned by a hot sidewalk? If so, how can I avoid this?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Surfaces that absorb and radiate heat can cause burns. This happens during the "dog days" of summer when the temperatures peak and the sun is out. Wearing protective footwear is the biggest key. Check a surface temperature with your hand before sitting down on the surface. Your hand has thicker skin and more sensitive nerve endings, so there is less chance of sustaining a burn this way.

  Lara (Evanston, IL) - 12:58 PM:
What is the most common injury you usually see during the summer?
Dr. Brigham Temple (NorthShore)
Summertime is when everyone is out and active. Orthopedic injuries such as ankle sprains are very common in the summer months. Being active sometimes results in injuries. Taking precautions can limit sprains and strains. Wearing appropriate footwear, stretching before exercising (including playing in a pool) and warming up before going full speed can help make activities safe and fun.

Kathryn (Moderator) - 1:02 PM:
Thank you for your questions. To schedule an appointment with a specialist like Dr. Temple, you can contact the department of Emergency Medicine. In the event of a medical emergency, please contact 911.
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