Dealing with broken bones, sprains and strains during a disaster situation can be daunting, difficult and downright scary, but there are a few things which you must do if it is impossible to get professional medical help.
- If you suspect that someone has a broken bone then try to get medical help as soon as possible, meanwhile . . .
- Do not try to move the person unless it is absolutely necessary in order to prevent any further injuries, you could make matters a whole lot worse.
- First and foremost, if the bone has pierced the skin and there is bleeding, work to stop it by applying pressure with a sterile bandage (from your disaster supply first aid kit), or a clean cloth or piece of clean clothing.
- Second of all, try to immobilize the broken bone, don’t try to move it, straighten it, re-align it or anything else, just keep it immobilized. Apply a splint to the area if possible, and remember that if you add a little padding to the splint it will be much more comfortable for the injured person.
- Ice packs can help to keep the swelling at bay, but don’t put it directly onto the persons skin, always wraps the ice in a bit of cloth, towel or whatever else you have handy.
- If the person has gone into shock – is feeling faint, short of breath etc then lay them down with their head a little lower than their trunk if possible, and elevate the legs if you can.
Sprains & Strains
Sprains and strains happen most commonly to the knees and ankles, and are quite common injuries to happen during the heat of a disaster emergency situation, generally speaking the more swelling there is present, the greater the injury. Okay, so how can you treat sprains and strains during a disaster when it’s impossible to get to the doctors or medical center? Remember R.I.C.E., no, not making a nice paella, it’s an acronym.
- R-est – the injured limb as much as you possibly can.
- I-ce – will help to limit swelling, so if you can get hold of an ice pack, or wrap some ice in a towel etc then get it onto the injured area as soon as possible.
- C-ompress – the area with an elastic bandage or similar (from your disaster preparedness first aid kit).
- E-levate – the injured limb as much as possible, make sure that it’s higher than your heart for maximum effect. This will also help to limit the amount of swelling.