CDC Blast Injury mobile application (free iPhone or iPad app for first responders)

April 29, 2017

The CDC Blast Injury app supports pre-hospital and hospital healthcare providers and public health professionals in preparing for and responding to terrorist bombings and other mass casualty explosive events.

Healthcare providers and public health professionals can use the application to:

  • Quickly review critical steps to take from the moment an event happens.
  • Learn blast injury patterns and treatment considerations.
  • Scan information efficiently with minimal effort on the way to or at a scene and grasp clinical guidance to support key job functions.
  • Access medical surge capacity guidance including information on facilitating health systems emergency communication.
  • Find special populations treatment considerations (e.g., women who are pregnant, children)
  • Link to the full breadth of CDC’s resources on blast injuries and mass casualty explosive events.

The CDC Blast Injury app for iPhone or iPad is available for free on iTunes


Hot Weather Health Emergencies (heat exhaustion versus heat stroke)

July 1, 2015

What is Extreme Heat? Temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for that area and last for several weeks are considered “extreme heat” or a heat wave. Humid and muggy conditions can make these high temperatures even more unbearable. Really dry and hot conditions can cause dust storms and low visibility. Droughts occur when a long period passes without enough rainfall. A heat wave combined with a drought is a very dangerous situation!

Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. Know the symptoms of heat illnesses and be ready to give first aid treatment.

There are two major types of heat illness – HEAT EXHAUSTION and HEAT STROKE. If heat exhaustion is left untreated it can lead to heat stroke. Both conditions are serious, however, heat stroke is a major medical emergency and getting victim’s body temperature cooled down is more critical than getting fluids in their body. Heat stroke can lead to death.

Things to watch for…

  • Heat Cramps
    • Muscle pains and spasms (usually first sign that body’s having trouble with the heat)
  • Heat Exhaustion
    • Cool, clammy, or pale skin;
    • Light-headed or dizzy and weak;
    • Racing heart;
    • Sick to the stomach (nausea);
    • Very thirsty or heavy sweating (sometimes)
  • Heat Stroke (also called Sunstroke) –
    • Very hot and dry skin;
    • Light-headed or dizzy;
    • Confusion, drowsiness or fainting;
    • Rapid breathing and rapid heartbeat;
    • Convulsions, passes out or slips into a coma

What to do…

  • Get victim to a cool or shady place and rest.
  • Lightly stretch or massage muscles to relieve cramps.
  • Loosen clothing around waist and neck to improve circulation and remove sweaty clothes.
  • Cool down victim’s body – put wet cloths on victim’s face, neck and skin and keep adding cool water to cloth… or if outdoors, use hose or stream. Also, fan the victim or get inside air-conditioned place.
  • Have victim sip cool water (NO alcohol – it dehydrates!)

If victim refuses water, pukes or starts to pass out:

  • Call for an ambulance or call 9-1-1.
  • Put victim on their side to keep airway open.
  • Keep cooling down their body by placing ice or cold cloths on wrists, neck, armpits, and groin area (where leg meets the hip) or keep adding water to cloths. Also fan the victim.
  • Check victim’s ABCsAirway, Breathing, & Circulation.
  • Stay with victim until medical help arrives.

Remember, HEAT STROKE (a.k.a sunstroke) is a medical emergency and can cause the victim to slip into a coma — getting a victim’s body temperature cooled down is more important than getting fluids in their body!

Disclaimer: These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Above data extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill and Janet Liebsch


Ticks suck (things to watch for and do + what to avoid)

May 31, 2014

Photo: André Karwath aka Aka via Wikimedia CommonsYou may think ticks are insects but they’re actually bloodsucking arachnids. Adult ticks have eight legs and two body segments just like spiders, mites and chiggers.

According to the CDC, most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive.

Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. And ticks aren’t choosy about their host – they can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

tick_sizes

Did you know…

  • tick watchers – from foresters to disease ecologists – are reporting a population explosion among black-legged ticks, formerly known as deer ticks, this year?! The cause isn’t clear but it could be due to a bumper crop of acorns that caused an increase of vermin (mice, squirrels, etc.) combined with the mild winter, but ticks are out there … and they’re hungry.
  • white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease?! Birds are major carriers too.
  • University of Virginia researchers claim a bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, may trigger an allergic reaction … to meat?!

Nasty suckers

Ticks grab onto a host (animals or people walking through brush) and sink their harpoon-like barbed mouth and head into the host’s skin to dine until they’re full of blood. Then they drop off and wait for the next meal to pass by. Since ticks feast on one spot for days, they can spread bacteria and diseases from host to host (like from animals to humans) – even by touching them.

The main threat of ticks is the risk of illness or disease (like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tick paralysis) so the best defense is reducing exposure to ticks or finding and removing them as quickly as possible.

Things to watch for…

  • Bite or sting mark or ticks
  • Pain or burning feeling
  • Redness or Swelling or Rash
  • Stomach pain or puking
  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, dizziness, weakness, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, etc.
  • Change in skin color or bruising or rash (may look kind of like a bulls-eye)

What to do for ticks…

Key things are to find a tick before it feasts for days and to remove a tick slowly with head intact so it doesn’t spew bacteria into the blood stream.

  • DO NOT use petroleum jelly, liquid soap, nail polish or heat – they don’t work!
  • Use tweezers or commercial tick remover (or at least cover fingers with a tissue).
  • Grasp tick close to skin where head is buried – don’t squeeze it!
  • Slowly pull tick straight up until skin puckers — it may take several seconds but tick will loosen its barbs and let go.

                                        tick-removal         tick-removal2

  • DO NOT throw tick away since it may need to be tested! Put it in zippered baggie with moist paper towel, date it, and put in refrigerator.
  • Wash bite wound and tweezers with soap and water.
  • Call local health department or vet to ask if tick needs to be identified or tested. If not, throw away baggie.
  • Watch for rash, infection or symptoms for a week or so.

Things to do to avoid ticks…

  • Wear light-colored pants and long-sleeve shirt (to see ticks), a hat (to keep out of hair) and tuck in (pants in socks and shirt in pants).
  • When hiking, walk in the center of trails and try to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use tick repellent with DEET and make sure you spray shoes and socks too.
  • Do full body checks at least a few times a day during tick season and don’t forget to check your pets!
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Inspect and rinse off gear and shoes.
  • The CDC suggests tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

TickApp

A handy tick tool is by Dr. Pete Teel, Texas AgriLife Research entomologist at College Station and hero tick stalker extraordinaire. Dr. Teel has created a one-place-for-all info-tool called the TickApp, a central cyber point that can be accessed any time/any day for all the tick information you need whether you are a dog owner, hunter, farmer or rancher, hiker, soldier, or medical professional.

Teel says the mobile smartphone app is available at no charge and is easy to use with little searching required. “Whether you are a healthcare professional needing fast tick identification information, an urban pet owner slogging through the bewildering arsenal of control alternatives or a South Texas cattleman facing financial hardship due to ticks, the app is meant for you,” Teel said in a recent AgriLife update. “It’s all very user-friendly and opens with just six easy-to-follow tabs that are quick to navigate. There’s a brief introduction, then a tick ID tab followed by tabs on tick biology, prevention and protection, removal and finally control and management practices.”

The TickApp can be downloaded at http://tickapp.tamu.edu.

 

Helpful Resources & Sources:

CDC’s Ticks site www.cdc.gov/ticks/

CDC’s Lyme Disease page www.cdc.gov/lyme/

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases site at www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Tick Management Handbook (71-page PDF)

CDPH’s Don’t Let the Ticks Bite – Curriculum Guide for Teachers

Outwitting the tick boom of 2012 – Philly.com

Allergic to Meat: Lone Star Tick May Make Vegetarians of Some – ABCnews.com

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease – NYTimes.com 

Novel Animal Reservoir for Group of Tick-Borne Diseases Discovered — And It Lives in Your Backyard – ScienceDaily.com

Smartphone app battles tick problem – Southwest Farm Press

Above appeared in our July 2012 enews – and find more first aid and preparedness tips in our IT’S A DISASTER! book


Buzz buzz baby (first aid tips for insect bites and stings)

May 10, 2014

orange blossom beeWe see bees often here in Southern Arizona – especially when spring is in full bloom. But with bees come the chance of swarms and stings.

We primarily have Africanized bees… but, for the most part, they leave humans alone unless someone disturbs a hive or is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A few years ago Bill and I were out in the front yard doing chores and heard — then saw — a swarm of bees coming down the middle of our street. The swarm then flew across our neighbor’s yard (across the street from us) so we figured it went into the wildlife corridor behind their home.

The next day we discovered the bees were hanging out in our neighbor’s mesquite tree so they called a bee removal team.

Before the team arrived Bill took this great pic of the bee mosh pit. And yes … the below bee ball is solid bees! Then the swarm flew away just before the removal team showed up.

bee ball

Since spring has sprung in many parts of the world, we wanted to share some basic first aid tips about insect bites & stings in general.

Things to watch for…

  • Stinger (Note: honeybees leave a stinger and venom sac)
  • Puncture or bite mark
  • Burning pain or Swelling
  • Allergic Reaction – Pain, itching, hives, redness or discoloration at site, trouble breathing, signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)
  • If a mosquito bite – watch for signs of West Nile Virus (most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)… Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache & body aches, Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands, or Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • Move quickly and calmly away from area if there is a swarm, hive or nest nearby.
  • If a bee sting, remove stinger(s) by scraping it away with credit card, knife or long fingernail. Don’t try to squeeze it out with your fingers or tweezers since this causes more venom to get in the victim.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water or rinse with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Cover with a bandage or clean cloth and apply ice pack or cold compress.
  • Watch for allergic reactions for a few days (see above).

To relieve pain from an insect bite or sting:

Activated charcoal – Make a paste using 2-3 capsules and a small amount of warm water. Dab paste on sting site and cover with gauze or plastic to keep it moist. This will help draw out venom so it collects on your skin. Note, powder makes a black mess but easily wiped off with a towel

Baking Soda – Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda + 1 part warm water and apply to the sting site for 15-20 minutes.

Clay mudpack – If in the wilderness, put a mudpack over injury and cover with bandage or cloth. The mudpack must be a mix of clay-containing soil since clay is the key element, but don’t use if any skin is cracked or broken.

Meat tenderizer – Mixing meat tenderizer (check ingredient list for “papain”) with warm water and applying to the sting will help break down insect venom. (Papain is a natural enzyme derived from papaya.)

Urine (Pee) – Another remedy useful in the wilderness sounds gross (but has a history of medical applications in a number of cultures) is urine (pee) which reduces the stinging pain. Unless you have a urinary tract infection, the pee will be sterile and at the least won’t do any harm.

Some other potential pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory remedies:

  • fresh aloe – break open a leaf or use 96-100% pure aloe gel
  • lemon juice – from a fresh lemon
  • vitamin E – oil from a bottle or break open a few gel capsules
  • store brands – if over-the-counter methods preferred, use calamine cream or lotion and aspirin or acetaminophen

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) – the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around yard and home since they are breeding grounds for skeeters.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites!
  • Learn more about West Nile Virus

 

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? A Disaster Preparedness, Prevention & Basic First Aid Manual by Bill & Janet Liebsch


Cold Weather Health Emergencies (frostbite versus hypothermia)

January 6, 2014

cold weather health emergencies frostbite versus hypothermiaStaying warm and safe may become a challenge when the mercury drops significantly below normal, especially if you have to deal with power outages.

Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can cause other serious or life-threatening health emergencies. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected by the most common cold-related problems: frostbite and hypothermia.

FROSTBITE

Frostbite (or frostnip which is the early stages of frostbite) is when certain parts of your body are exposed to severe or extreme cold – mainly your fingers, toes, ears, cheeks and nose. Freezing temperatures can form ice crystals in the fluids in and around cells in your body. This damages and dries out cell tissues and membranes, and extreme cases can impact deep nerves, muscles or even bones… or even lead to the loss of a limb.

frostbite, blister, handThings to watch for…

  • Skin appears white and waxy
  • Numbness or no feeling in that area
  • Possible blisters

What to do…

  • Handle area gently; DO NOT rub it!
  • Remove tight or constrictive clothing (gloves, boots, socks, etc.) and any jewelry.
  • Warm gently using body heat or soaking area in warm water (between 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit / 38-41 degrees Celsius) until area is red and feels warm. (Victim may feel a burning sensation or pain as the area warms back up.)
  • Loosely bandage area with dry, sterile dressing or cloth.
  • If fingers or toes are frostbitten, separate them with sterile gauze or clean cloth.
  • Try not to break any blisters.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the area since this may cause damage to cells!
  • DO NOT rub snow on the area!
  • DO NOT try to warm with dry radiant heat (meaning don’t warm with a blow-dryer or hold in front of fire or hot stove). Using warm water is best.
  • DO NOT try to thaw a frostbitten body part if it has a chance of re-freezing (if you are stuck in the wilderness) since this could cause more damage.

 

HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia starts setting in when your body core (the vital organs – heart, lungs, and kidneys) drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). When exposed to extreme cold for a long time, your brain begins to shut down certain bodily functions to save internal heat for the core.

Things to watch for…

  • Shivering and numbness
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Stumbling and weakness
  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Shock (pale, cold or clammy, weak or rapid pulse, etc.)

What to do…

  • Gently move victim to a warm place.
  • Check breathing and pulse (ABCs… Airway, Breathing, & Circulation).
  • Handle victim gently and DO NOT rub body or limbs.
  • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing and/or blankets.
  • If possible, place victim in a sleeping bag or wrap in a blanket, especially if in the wilderness. (Note: Your body heat can help heat victim… so cuddle up – if victim says it’s okay!)
  • Cover the head and neck with a hat or part of a blanket (75% of the body’s heat is lost through top of the head).
  • DO NOT WARM VICTIM TOO QUICKLY, such as putting them in warm water! (If the body warms too fast, it can dump cold blood into the heart and body core causing a possible heart attack or drop in body temperature.)
  • If hot water bottles or hot packs are used, wrap them in a towel or blanket first then place on side of the chest and/or on groin area. (If heat is put on arms or legs then blood could be drawn away from body core – keep heat on the core!) Also the below graphic from Princeton.edu demonstrates placement of heat packs and how to do a wrap on a victim.

hypothermia wrap

  • Let victim sip a warm, sweet, nonalcoholic drink.
  • Keep watching victim’s ABCs.
  • Keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck, even after their temperature has increased.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the victims’ limbs!
  • DO NOT put victim in a hot bath! It will warm him/her TOO quickly.
  • DO NOT put hot packs on arms or legs… put them against the body (chest or groin area).

Disclaimer: These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider and hypothermia is a medical emergency. Above data extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill and Janet Liebsch also appeared in PREPARE Magazine.

See also:

Preparing for winter storms (tips to winterize home, prevent ice dams and more)

Winter Safety tips for Pets and Livestock

Winter driving tips

And visit our Look inside the book page for more preparedness topics.

Stay safe (and warm) out there. j & B


Study finds choking on food still common among kids (plus tips on how to help a choking child or adult)

July 29, 2013

Here’s an interesting Monday musing…

Did you know about 34 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every day for choking on food, according to a new report?!

According to U.S. News, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at a national database, comparing the numbers of choking injuries year by year.

In 2001, about 10,400 U.S. children were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal choking on food. From 2001 through 2009, the annual estimate of non-fatal injuries was about 12,400 children, aged 14 and under, Smith found.

The average age of the children treated was 4.5 years old, and the age group of children from newborns to 4 years old accounted for about 62 percent of the episodes.

The top 5 foods involved in choking incidents were candy, meat, bone, fruits and vegetables. Hot dogs made the list but they were #11 according to MD Mama. Read more about the new study online and in the August print issue of Pediatrics.

So … would YOU know what to do if you see a child or adult choking..?

Things to watch for…

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing or choking for several minutes
  • Gripping the throat with one or both hands
  • High-pitched wheezing
  • Bluish color of skin, lips, fingertips/nails, and earlobes

NOTE: There are TWO separate “What to do…” parts here… one for ADULTS & CHILDREN and one for INFANTS!

choking adult heimlich maneuverWhat to do… for ADULTS & CHILDREN (Children over age 1)

  • Tell victim to try and cough it out. Ask “are you choking?” If victim nods yes, tell him/her you are going to help. (Be prepared to do the Heimlich maneuver.)
  •  Stand behind victim, wrap your arms around him/her and place your fist (thumb side in) just above victim’s belly button well below the breastbone.
  • Grab the fist with your other hand and give quick, upward thrusts into their abdomen.
  •  Continue giving thrusts until the object is coughed out and victim can breathe, cough or talk or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If ADULT or CHILD stops responding or passes out:

Yell for help, check breathing, and position victim on a flat surface so you can begin CPR (30 compressions and 2 breaths) – or do Hands-only CPR – to help force object out.

choking-infant-backslapsWhat to do… for INFANTS (Newborn to age 1)

  • If infant stops breathing, have someone call an ambulance.
  • Turn infant face down on your forearm and support its head with that hand — hold at angle so it’s head is lower than chest. (May want to brace arm holding infant against your thigh.)
  • Give 5 back blows between infants’ shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
  • If no object comes out, turn infant over so it is facing up on your forearm (still at an angle so head lower than chest) — use your first two fingers to find the center of the breastbone on infant’s chest.
  • Give 5 thrusts to infant’s chest using only 2 fingers! (Each thrust should be 1½ inches [3.81 cm] deep!)
  • Repeat steps until infant can breath, cough, or cry or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If INFANT stops responding or passes out: 

Place infant on a firm, flat surface above ground (like on a table or counter) so you can begin Infant CPR.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about CPR from the American Heart Association or find a CPR class near you … or contact your local Red Cross about their First Aid and CPR courses.

And visit the Child Injury Prevention Alliance for some choking prevention tips.

Stay safe out there, j & B


West Nile Virus: Signs, symptoms and prevention tips

August 21, 2012

West Nile Virus signs, symptoms and prevention tipsWest Nile virus (WNV) is making headlines again due to recent outbreaks around the country.

WNV is primarily spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds. But realize, out of 700+ species of mosquitoes in the U.S.(and 74 species in Canada), very few – less than 1% – become infected with WNV.

A vast majority of people (4 out of 5) infected with WNV won’t show any symptoms at all. For those that do, the virus usually causes fever, aches and general discomfort.

Severe cases can cause inflammation of the lining of the brain or spinal cord (meningitis), inflammation of the brain itself (encephalitis) or a polio-like syndrome that can result in loss of function of one or more limbs (WN poliomyelitis or acute flaccid paralysis). These conditions can be life-altering or fatal.

People of all ages could develop serious health effects, but seniors and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.

Things to watch for…

(Most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)

Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache, sick to stomach (nausea) and body aches

Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands

Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • There is no “cure” other than a body fighting off the virus naturally – mainly just watch symptoms.
  • Consider boosting immune system to help fight virus (like taking astragalus, Vitamin C, garlic, mushrooms, zinc, good multiple vitamin + mineral supplement, etc. – but check with doctor if taking prescription medications).
  • If mild symptoms appear, keep watching person for a few weeks in case symptoms get worse.
  • If severe symptoms appear, get medical attention quickly since it could become deadly.

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active but realize mosquitoes can bite anytime (including throughout the night).
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) — the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around your yard and home since they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. For example, drill a hole in tire swings so water drains out and dump water out of kiddie pools, buckets, flower pots and other items esp. after rainstorms. And change out water in pet dishes often and bird baths weekly.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Download more first aid and disaster preparedness topics from our IT’S A DISASTER!… book here

Additional Resources:

CDC’s West Nile page  www.cdc.gov/westnile

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases  www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd

Public Health Agency of Canada’s Infectious Diseases  www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/id-mi/

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