First aid knowledge saves lives

It's not a pretty picture of the holidays, but summer-time activities can be a mixed bag, sometimes leading to broken bones, road trauma, stings, burns, bites and heatstroke.

The Australian Red Cross has issued first aid tips to help people respond to summer's twists and turns.

It covers first aid on the beach, road and campsites, but Red Cross National First Aid, Health and Safety Advisor Dan Coad's primary advice is to keep a first aid kit in every car and home.

"Red Cross first aid kits contain dressings, bandages, hygienically packaged items and a 40-page booklet containing helpful information and instructions on first aid procedures," he says.

The Illawarra is renowned for its beaches, so it won't come as a surprise many people spend their days in the surf and the sun.

Mr Coad says people often underestimate the severity of heatstroke, which can be life threatening.

Anyone suffering from heatstroke should be moved to a cooler place, drink small amounts of cool water and place wet cloths or towels on their body.

Other beach tips include, never swim at night and refrain from drinking alcohol before swimming.

"Alcohol and water don't mix," he says.

In the case of drownings, do not enter the water unless trained to perform water rescues. But if they are out of the water and not breathing, administer CPR, even if you aren't sure how to do it.

"A common mistake is not to administer compressions or breaths for fear of using the incorrect method, when in fact any effort is better than no effort at all," he says.

"If a person is breathing, tilt their head back and place them on their side in the recovery position. It is important to tilt the head back as it moves the tongue out of the way."

When on the road, if you encounter a road accident, first check for danger, then a response from victim. Send for help on 000, open the airway, check for breathing, start CPR and attach an automatic defibrillator as soon as possible.

Shock is one of the most common conditions associated with road accident trauma, Mr Coad says. "To determine if someone is in shock, look for restlessness or irritability, nausea or vomiting, drowsiness, confusion or loss or consciousness; or pale, cool or moist skin," he said.

If you are burnt on a BBQ or campfire, use cool running water on the burn for as long as possible. For severe burns, the Red Cross advises to cover the burn after cooling with plastic wrap or a clean plastic bag and do not use dressing as it will stick to the burn.

If people have been stung, look for a bite mark or stinger, and swelling.

"Remove the stinger with a flat card making sure you don't inject more venom," Mr Coad says. "Wash the wound with soap and water and cover with a clean dressing and apply an ice or cold pack."

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