12 Injuries of Christmas

Now that Christmas is in full swing we thought we would share our new Medicare Festive First Aid Guide – although this is a happy time of year there are many accidents that may occur, this handy guide is designed to provide key information in a light and informative manner.

The Guide includes the 12 Injuries of Christmas namely – Cuts & Scrapes / Choking / Head Injuries / Sprains &Strains / Cardiac Arrest / Burns & Scalds / Fainting / Electric Shock / Eye Injury / Fractures & Breaks/ Nosebleeds/ The Recovery Position.

1. Burns & Scalds

Burns and scalds are common injuries which, if only mild, can be easily treated at home. Examples of burns may involve candle lighting or lighting the Christmas Pudding while scalds could involve straining Brussel sprouts or pouring off the turkey fat.

Types of Burns
Superficial Burn (First Degree Burn): This type of burn affects only the outer layer of skin, otherwise known as the epidermis. This is classified as the mildest type of burn but is still tender to touch and may cause swelling.
Partial-thickness Burn (Second Degree Burn): While this type of burn looks and feels very similar to a superficial burn, you will experience blistering of the skin. It is important to remember not to burst these blisters, as their function is to prevent infection.
Full-thickness Burn (Third Degree Burn): A full-thickness burn affects both the epidermis and dermis layers of skin and, as you probably guessed, is the most severe type of burn. A burn like this may look pale, black, charred and waxy and surprisingly will be painless as the nerve endings will have been burnt away. If you experience this type of burn, you must seek urgent medical attention.

Treating a Burn
1. The first thing you must do after suffering a burn is cool it down, by running it under tepid water for a minimum of 20 minutes.
2. You must remove any jewellery, such as watches and rings, before skin tissue begins to swell.
3. Applying Medicare Burn Gel or Burn Gel Dressing and covering the burnt area with a non-fluffy sterile dressing such as Medporex will help to protect it from infection.
4. Treat the casualty for shock.

If a child or infant has suffered a burn, regardless of the severity, they must be treated in hospital. In addition to this, all full-thickness burns, burns that extend around the arm or leg or burns involving the face, genitals, hands or feet should be treated by a medical professional.


2. Fainting

Fainting is typically caused by a lack of oxygenated blood reaching the brain and can be described as a sudden temporary loss of consciousness. There may not be any warning symptoms when you suffer a stroke but some people recall feeling sick and confused, lightheaded, blurred vision and fast, deep breathing.

Before you faint, you are likely to feel weak and unsteady before eventually passing out for a short period of time.

Causes of Fainting
There are several reasons behind fainting, such as:

  • Emotional stress
  • Pain
  • Lack of food
  • Pregnancy
  • Exhaustion
  • Fear
  • Prolonged standing

Treatment for fainting
If someone is feeling faint then you should advise them to lie down on the floor and raise their legs higher than their head. This position will help to improve blood flow back to the brain.

If someone around you has fainted and has not recovered after two minutes, then you should place them in the recovery position and closely monitor their airways and breathing. Once they are in the recovery position, you should call for emergency medical help. Be prepared to resuscitate the patient if they stop breathing.

If you have suffered a fainting episode, there are things that you can do to avoid it happening again, such as avoiding triggers like stress and hot/crowded environments. Spotting the warning signs beforehand, so that you can lie down and increase blood flow to the brain will help to prevent further fainting incidents.


3. Cuts and Grazes

Cuts and grazes are common injuries that can usually be treated at home. A wound is an injury to the skin and can be classified depending on what causes the injury. It is easy to ignore cuts and grazes, as they do not cause much harm, but it is important to realise that they carry the risk of infection.

A graze, also known as an abrasion, is a superficial wound that involves the removal of the top layer of the skin. Grazes are often caused by friction, meaning that there is a higher risk of foreign objects entering the wound and causing infection.

A cut is typically caused by a sharp edge which can result in increased blood loss and damage to underlying soft tissues.
These injuries can occur at Christmas due to tasks such as cutting/ shaping the Christmas Tree, prepping vegetables for Christmas dinner or paper cuts wrapping those presents!

How to treat cuts & grazes
Graze: Firstly, you must remember to clean the wound to avoid any potential infection with Medicare Effigerm First Aid Spray to remove any foreign objects. Pat the wound dry with a sterile swab and cover with a Medicare dressing or a plaster.

Cut: Again, cleaning the wound with Medicare Effigerm First Aid Spray should be a priority to eradicate any foreign objects. Warm water tends to be more comfortable as this cleans the cut. Ensure that the wound is dry and cover it with a Medicare dressing or plaster.


4. Eye Injury

Many of us will be celebrating the holiday with a little bubbly. Make sure your celebrations do not turn disastrous for your eye health by learning how to properly open a champagne bottle.

Every year, improper cork-removal techniques cause serious and potentially blinding eye injuries. A champagne cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle – fast enough to shatter glass. At such speeds, you have no time to react and protect your eye. (Source: GetEyeSmart.org)

How to treat an eye injury
Don’t fall victim to permanent eye damage by following some simple guidelines below:

  1. Before you open the bottle, chill it for a few hours. Experts say the ideal temperature is between 39 and 48 Fahrenheit degrees. Cold champagne is less likely to spurt out of the bottle.
  2. Take the bottle out of the fridge carefully, do not jostle or shake the bottle. Remove the plastic foil and wire cage that holds the cork in place.
  3. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, making sure it’s pointing away from you and anyone else. It helps to hold a napkin over the top of the cork to get a good grip and keep everything in place.
  4. Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. As the bottle turns, the cork will slowly ease out. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
  5. Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

Should you ever experience an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from a doctor.


5. Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are usually not serious and can be simply treated at home. They are typically caused when the inside of your nose is damaged blowing your nose too hard or even due to changes in temperature.

There are certain instances where a nosebleed will need professional medical attention, which is when they occur from deeper inside the nose. Examples of this include when the nose has been broken when it is caused by high blood pressure or by taking a specific type of medication or by conditions that affect the blood vessels or how the blood clots.

There are certain people who are more prone to experiencing nosebleeds:

  • Children (they usually grow out of them by the age of 11)
  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant women

How to treat a nosebleed

  1. Make sure that you are sitting or standing upright and not lying down.
  2. Pinch your nose just above the nostrils for around 10-15 minutes.
  3. Lean forward and breathe through your mouth.
  4. Have a cloth or bowl ready for any drips or dribbles of blood.
  5. Place a Medicare Instant ice pack at the top of your nose to reduce any swelling that may have been caused.
  6. After 10-15 minutes, allow the casualty to stop pinching their nose.

If the bleeding has stopped after the 10 minutes, you should advise the casualty to rest and avoid blowing their nose for several hours, as this may disturb any blood clots that have formed and is likely to trigger another nosebleed.
However, if the bleeding has not stopped, then the patient must pinch the soft part of their nose for a further 10 minutes. If the nosebleed continues after 30 minutes, the casualty must be taken to the hospital to receive medical attention.


6. Choking

Choking can be a common injury at Christmas. Most incidents occur around eating large amount of food while other choking incidents that may occur involve babies/ toddlers picking up random items from under the Christmas tree
Choking can be classified as mild or severe and is when an object has become partially or completely stuck in the throat. This causes the muscles in the throat to spasm, making breathing difficult or impossible.

It is vital to keep airways (nose, mouth, throat or lungs) open so that air can travel through to our lungs and transfer oxygen into our blood. A blockage to the airway is a life-threatening emergency that should be immediately treated.

How to treat a choking adult/child

  1. Encourage the casualty to bend forward from the waist and support them with one hand.
  2. With the other hand, deliver up to 5 sharp back blows with the heel of your hand. This should be done between the choking victim’s shoulder blades.
  3. If the obstruction isn’t cleared after the back blows have been completed, you must stand behind the casualty and place both of your arms around them. Encourage them to lean forward, as before, and then provide them with 5 abdominal thrusts. This can be done by placing one fist between the belly button and the bottom of the breastbone and the other fist on top of that. Pull the fists sharply inwards and upwards to deliver an abdominal thrust. This should be carried out 5 times too.
  4. Check the casualty’s mouth for obstructions and repeat 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts up to 3 times. If the airway is still not cleared, call for an ambulance and continue treating the patient until help arrives.
  5. If they become unresponsive, then you must prepare to resuscitate.

How to treat a choking infant

  1. For patients under 1, treatment for choking must be carried out differently to support the baby’s head.
  2. Lay the infant down along your forearm, so that their head is lower than their chest.
  3. Deliver 5 back blows with the heel of one hand between the infant’s shoulder blades. Check their mouth for obstructions between each back blow.
  4. If the airway is still blocked, then you must turn the infant onto their back and place two fingers on the breastbone, thrusting sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat this movement up to 5 times, again checking for obstructions after each thrust.
  5. If the blockage has not cleared, repeat steps 2 and 3 up to 3 more times.
  6. Call for an ambulance if the blockage is still there and be prepared to perform CPR if the infant becomes unresponsive


7. Sprains & Strains

A sprain is a muscle, ligament or tendon that has been twisted or torn, while a strain is a muscle that has been overstretched and partially torn. Both injuries can cause mild or severe pain but can usually be treated at home.

What causes a sprain or strain?
Sprains are most commonly acquired through sports or exercising, primarily when your muscles are tired or you have failed to warm up beforehand. The muscles will become overstretched, meaning that any sudden movements can lead to a tear.
Simply changing direction too quickly or falling in an awkward position can lead to a sprain or strain, other festive injuries could include icy/slippery footpaths, wet kitchen floors and those dreaded high heels shoes!

Treating a sprain
The main indicators that you have sustained a sprain or strain is tenderness or weakness of the injured area, along with potential swelling or bruising.
Remembering the RICE acronym is essential when you experience a sprain or strain as this will help you to make a full recovery and avoid any further damage.

Rest – Stop any exercise that you are doing and refrain from putting any weight on the injured area, advisably for 24-48 hours.
Ice – Apply a Medicare Instant Ice Pack to the injury for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours which will assist in reducing the pain and swelling.
Compression – Wrap a Mediform bandage around the sprain or strain to give extra support.
Elevate – Keep the injury raised above the level of your heart, to decrease pain and throbbing. You can do this by propping the injured area on a pillow.

After 2 weeks, most sprains will start to feel better. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for up to 8 weeks after your sprain injury. If your strain or sprain has not healed within this timescale, then you may be recommended for physiotherapy to help your injury return to its normal state.


8. Fractures & Breaks

The icy weather around the festive period can lend itself to may slips and falls that can lead to painful fractures or worse even breaks.

Depending on the injury, we may not know straight away that it’s broken. You don’t need us to tell you that if there’s a bone coming through the skin, it’s pretty obvious but it may not be quite that clear.

How to treat a fracture/break

It may start to swell and become bruised which looks similar to a sprain. Usually we can tell due to how the injury happened. Impact on an area may be more likely to be a break whereas a sudden, unusual movement i.e. twisting is more likely to be a sprain.

Treatment is simple. Keep the injured area still and supported comfortably and take a trip to A&E. Minimal movement is important regardless of where on the body this is. However, a broken leg may require an ambulance whereas a broken wrist may not.


9. Head Injuries

Head injuries can occur in many instances over the holiday period such as slipping on a wet kitchen floor or a child’s toy.

How to treat a head injury

If there’s a bump on the head, the most effective way to treat it is with a cold compress or an ice pack to help reduce the swelling. However this isn’t the most vital part of the first aid.

With head injuries, monitoring the casualty is paramount. We’re looking for certain signs and symptoms that show us the injury may be getting worse. Are they particularly drowsy? Are they acting out of sorts, maybe not quite themselves? Are they throwing up and complaining of a headache that won’t shift?

If any if these symptoms are present, they need to get them to a hospital. If they’re deteriorating quickly, call 999. Otherwise you can take them to A&E if you’re worried at any point – it is better to go and find out


10. Electric Shock

Every year, 1,000 people die because of electrical accidents. Festive accidents may include plugging in a faulty string of Christmas lights which can cause serious burns.

Young children often suffer burns in their mouths from chewing on an electrical cord or playing with an outlet. Knowing what to do in the event of such an accident can limit the extent of the burn and possibly save a life.

Don’t touch anything until you’ve assessed the situation. If the victim is still in contact with the electrical source, touching him or her could expose you to life-threatening danger. If possible, turn off the source of electricity. Unplug the appliance or turn off the building’s main power. Don’t depend on the appliance’s switch, which could be faulty.

If you are unable to turn off the electricity, you need to quickly and carefully separate the victim from the source of the current. Stand on a pile of clothes or newspapers, a rubber mat, a book, or other insulating material. Using a broomstick, plastic mop handle, wooden chair, rope or other nonconducting object, separate the victim from the source of electricity (nonconducting objects can be anything made of cardboard, plastic, or wood; a wooden baseball bat or a branch will serve the purpose.) Be careful to keep these materials dry. Do NOT touch the victim with your hands or with anything that is wet or made of metal.

How to perform first aid

Assess the victim’s condition and check for breathing. If breathing has stopped, call 999 and begin CPR immediately. If the person is breathing but unconscious, check for burns. These may be present at both the entry and exit sites of the electric current, so check the entire body. Cover burns with sterile gauze bandages, if available, or a clean cloth. Don’t put heavy blankets or towels on the burns because their weight could cause pain. Treat minor burns as you would any kind of burn. If the wound is serious, however, don’t try to cool the burn or apply ointment or oil to it.

A person with an electrical burn should get immediate medical attention even if the skin doesn’t seem injured or if the wound does not appear deep. Electrical burns often cause serious injury inside the body that may not be apparent on the skin. If you have any doubts, call 999, even if the victim is conscious and says she feels okay. Electrical burns are often deeper and more serious than they appear.

While you’re waiting for help, check to see if the victim is faint or shows signs of shock, including pale or clammy skin and a rapid pulse. If this is the case, elevate their legs slightly, cover them with a light blanket and wait for help.


11. The Recovery Position

Although not an injury The Recovery Position is something that everyone should be aware of. This procedure should be used to treat an unresponsive victim who is still breathing.

This position will help to manage the casualty’s airway by preventing their tongue from falling to the back of their throat. It also protects the airway from vomit which eliminates the risk of choking and causing further harm to the patient.

Airways consist of your nose, mouth, throat and lungs. It is vital that these are kept open to enable the passage of air to your lungs, so that oxygen gets transferred into your blood.

How to perform the Recovery Position

  1. Kneel down next to the casualty, roughly level with their chest.
  2. Place the arm that is nearest to you at a right angle with their hand upwards, towards their head.
  3. Tuck their other hand under the side of their head.
  4. Bend their knee farthest from you to a right angle.
  5. Carefully roll the victim onto their side by pulling their bent knee.
  6. The victim’s top arm should be supporting their head and their bottom arm will stop them from rolling too far.
  7. To open their airway, tilt their head back and lift their chin.

Recovery Position & Spinal Injuries

If you suspect that the victim has suffered a spinal injury, they should NOT be moved, unless they are in imminent danger.

Moving a casualty with a spinal injury should always remain a last resort. However, if necessary, the recovery position can be adjusted to avoid further damage to the spine.

This position is known as the ‘log roll,’ which is where the casualty’s limbs are straightened and they are moved in one slow, steady movement. The head, chest, hips and legs should be supported at all times, to keep the spine straight.


12. CPR

When someone falls victim to a sudden cardiac arrest, blood stops circulating around their body to deliver oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. Therefore, performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in this instance is crucial to keep oxygen flowing and increase their chance of survival.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical malfunction of the heart and can sadly affect people of all ages. Without CPR in a cardiac arrest emergency, a victim’s chance of survival is very slim. For every minute that passes in the event of an SCA, survival rates decrease by 10%, which is why early intervention is so important.

How to perform CPR

Before you perform CPR, you must check the scene of the emergency, to ensure that it is safe. Firstly, tap the casualty’s shoulder and ask ‘Are you OK?’ in both ears.

If you are alone, make sure that you remember to call 999 and grab the nearest available defibrillator. However, if someone else is present, you should get them to do this for you and you concentrate on the casualty.

Next, you should open the airway of the casualty by lying them on their back and tilting their head back to lift the chin.

If there is no indication of breathing after 10 seconds, you should immediately begin CPR.

  1. The rate of CPR is 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths.
  2. Place your hands, one on top of the other, in the middle of the chest and use your weight to help you administer hard compressions that are at least 2 inches deep and at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.
  3. For rescue breaths, tilt the person’s head back slightly and lift the chin, pinch the nose and place your mouth over theirs to make a complete seal. Blow into their mouth to make the chest rise. Deliver two rescue breaths and continue with compressions. (If you are untrained in rescue breaths, you can still help the victim by using hands-only CPR).
  4. Continue giving cycles of thirty chest compressions and two rescue breaths until help arrives or the casualty begins to regain responsiveness and starts to breathe normally.

CPR is a skill that will equip you with the knowledge to save a life.