First-aid guide for summer-holiday injuries

Treat these common mishaps and injuries at home

Don’t let a bee sting or burn get in the way of your holiday fun. We’ve got you covered with this at-home first-aid guide.

For burns

A small burn from something hot (like a braai) that is the size of a R5 coin, or smaller, is easily treatable at home. Rinse it with cool running water for at least 20 minutes, then cover loosely with gauze and secure with tape. Change the bandage daily and watch out for signs of infection such as redness, pus or swelling.
ER Alert: If the burn is from an electrical accident, head straight to the emergency room.

For cuts

Press with a gauze pad until bleeding slows considerably or stops. Flush wound with tap water for at least two minutes; pat dry, cover with gauze and secure with tape. Splinter? Use a sterilised needle to lift its end so you can grip it with sterilised tweezers. Slide the splinter out at the same angle at which it appears to have gone in. Wash with warm water and cover with a bandage.
ER Alert: If blood still flows readily after 10 to 15 minutes of pressure, or if the edges of the wound won’t come together, head to the emergency room.

For stings

For insect bites, use a credit card to gently scrape the stinger away. (To avoid squeezing out more venom, work below the venom sac if it’s still attached.) Wash the area with soap and water, and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
ER Alert: If you suspect an anaphylactic reaction – swollen lips or eyelids, swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting or diarrhoea – head to the emergency room.

For head bonks

The size of the ‘egg’ does not correlate with the injury’s severity, so monitor symptoms carefully. In the meantime, treat localised pain with ice and paracetamol. Avoid ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, since they can interfere with internal blood clotting – never a good idea when you’re dealing with a head wound.
ER Alert: If the injured person has lost consciousness (even for a short time), has a severe headache, is vomiting or is confused, head to the emergency room.


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