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DIY healthy SOS; How to handle health emergencies when you're all alone By Susan Griffin.

Byline: Susan Griffin

THE focus of first aid is helping others, but it's worth taking a moment to consider how you might treat yourself in a medical emergency if nobody else is around.

"While most of the first aid you can do on yourself is the same as you'd do on someone else, when it comes to heart problems or choking it can be more difficult to save your own life," says Alan Weir, clinical director at St John Ambulance (sja.org.uk).

Here he shares some simple but practical advice for how to cope with situations when solo

HEART ATTACK

"While a heart attack could lead to a cardiac arrest, the main difference is someone suffering a heart attack will be responsive and their heart will still be beating," says Alan.

"Someone suffering a cardiac arrest will be unresponsive and their heart will stop pumping blood around their body."

What to do:

1 Call 999 and say you suspect you're having a heart attack.

2 Rest.Any movement will put unnecessary pressure on the heart. The best position is on the floor, leaning against a wall with knees bent and head and shoulders supported. This should ease the pressure on your heart and stop you hurting yourself if you collapse.

3 Chew an aspirin tablet slowly, if you aren't allergic to it. This will help prevent the heart attack from getting any worse.

4 Try to stay calm. If you panic, you may be putting extra strain on your body and reduce your chances of survival.

CHOKING

"If the blockage is partial, you'll be able to save yourself by coughing, forcing the blockage to clear," says Alan.

"If the blockage is more serious, you will need to find help, or try performing abdominal thrusts on yourself. While it will be hard at the time, try and stay calm and follow the advice below."

What to do:

1 Try and find help from nearby people if possible. Don't go off on your own to spare your blushes. If no one is near, call 999.

2 Try and vigorously cough by leaning forward to clear the obstruction.

3 Try giving yourself abdominal thrusts by placing your hand in a fist, just above your belly button and underneath your ribs. Place your other hand on top and pull upwards to try and force the air in and up.

SEVERE BLEEDING

"While some areas are more dangerous if cut than others, such as a main artery, the advice would still be the same as if anyone else was bleeding severely," says Alan.

What to do:

1 Apply direct pressure to the wound, using your hand, a towel, or piece of clothing that you may have nearby.

2 Call 999 to ask for emergency help.

3 If you can, try and secure the dressing with a bandage to help maintain pressure.

4 Support the injury above heart level, if you can - this will reduce the flow of blood to the affected area.

5 Never try to remove anything embedded in the wound as this could be acting as a plug. Instead, put pressure around the embedded object.

6 Treat yourself for shock by resting your legs above heart level, if possible.

BURNS

"You need to cool the burn as quickly as possible to prevent lasting damage and ensure a quick recovery," says Alan. "If the burn is larger than your hand, on the face, hands or feet, or a deep burn, you will need to seek medical attention."

What to do:

1 Hold the burn under cool running water immediately. If there's no water to hand, hold the burn against a cold can or surface.

2 Call 999 for emergency help.

3 Continue cooling the area for at least 10 minutes. Do not touch the burn.

4 Remove any jewellery or clothing unless stuck to the burn.

5 Cover loosely with clingfilm if available. A clean plastic bag or sterile dressing could also be used.

6 Treat yourself for shock by resting your legs above heart level.

BROKEN BONE

"While a broken bone is not likely to be life threatening, it's important to try and reduce the pain and seek medical attention before going into shock, which could cause death," says Alan. "Do not try and use the broken limb, or make any movements that cause further pain."

What to do:

1 If the fracture is open, cover the wound with a sterile dressing, your hand, or a piece of clothing.

2 Apply pressure around the wound, not over the protruding bone and secure with a bandage, if possible.

3 Support the injured limb above and below the joint and place padding around the injury.

4 Call 999 to get emergency help quick.

5 Treat yourself for shock by resting your legs above heart level. Do not try if you have broken your leg but raise the uninjured leg.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 12, 2018
Words:815
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