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Bizarre bites

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When a unique situation presents itself, your cluelessness could be costly. The knowledge of and ability to administer proper first aid in certain situations can save someone’s life. Trisha Ghoroi & Aakriti Patni have tips for such situations

We all know what to do in case of a cut or burn, and we experience such small accidents often. But we (naturally) don’t know how to respond when faced with rarer scenarios which might be serious. Emergencies can come at any time — for instance, being bitten by a leech during a camping trip or a friend cramping up in the pool — and panic might get the better of you. But not if you know how to tackle them. Here we bring you first aid tips for unusual situations.

A bee sting

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The popular phrase may sound catchy, but a bee sting is definitely not a pleasant experience. And, if you’re out in a flower garden admiring the natural beauty, you don’t want a bee to ruin the experience.

  • First aid tips: First, move to a safe location indoors to avoid any more stings. If the bee’s stinger is logged in your skin, carefully remove it. But, don’t pull it out. Scrape it out using a credit card, pushing at it at an angle. This prevents more venom from being released into your body. Once the stinger is out, apply ice to numb the pain. Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce the effects of the venom. If you don't have a hydrocortisone cream, use toothpaste, honey or a baking soda paste.

Electric shock

We live in a world that is constantly wired and to keep our gadgets juiced up we need electricity. But, accidents do happen and you can get an electric shock from electric sockets or plugs, overhead wires or even lighting fixtures.

  • First aid tips: The first priority in such cases is to separate the victim from the source of the current. Make sure that you’re standing on a dry, non-conducting surface or wearing non-conducting shoes that are completely covered. Use a non-conducting material, such as a wooden stick, rubber mat or plastic, to separate them from the current. If the person is lying on the floor surround by water, don’t enter the room (until you’re sure that the electricity has been turned off) as it could easily trap you. Once they are safe, check their breathing. If they are not breathing, call for an ambulance and administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). After shock, a person’s body temperature could drop, so cover them with a blanket.

A snake bite

While snakes are not generally found in our concrete jungles, with their habitats shrinking, they often end up in crevices in and around our homes. And if someone is bitten, proper first aid could be the difference between life and death.

  • First aid tips: If someone is bitten by a snake, the first thing to do is to move them away from the reptile to a safe location. Call for an ambulance immediately! Ask the person bitten or someone around to describe the snake. This will help identify it and choose an antidote accordingly, if it is a venomous snake. Lie the person down and make sure that the site of the bite is below heart level. If the person develops symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, swelling and redness around the wound, vomiting, blurred vision or heavy sweating, then the snake may have been venomous. Check the bite for fang marks. If there are multiple marks, then it was probably a non-venomous snake. Don’t attempt to suck the venom out and don’t apply ice to the wound, as traces of venom could help identify the snake species. Tie off the region above the bite to slow down the venom from spreading to the body.

Salmonella poisoning

A bout of salmonella is caused due to the Salmonella bacteria, which is present in the guts of farm animals and birds, and thus can contaminate meat, eggs, milk and poultry. It is a fairly common type of food poisoning, often affecting adolescents and those with weak immune systems. It is best to rest and recuperate when down with it.

  • First aid tips: Salmonella is known to strip your body of water and nutrients, so if you suspect salmonella, the first thing to do is to re-hydrate and build up your electrolytes. Drink plenty of fluids. Sip on warm water with salt to replenish your electrolytes. For a boost of energy, fresh fruit juices can help. Suck on ice-chips and take a Paracetamol if needed, to treat the pain and fever. It is best to avoid going to work or school, as salmonella is contagious.

Smoke inhalation

This is the number one cause of death when it comes to fires, especially in the cases of indoor fires. When you breathe in smoke, your lungs and airway are compromised, leading to difficulty in breathing and respiratory failure.

  • First aid tip: Your first priority should be to relocate yourself and the injured person away from the site of the fire and smoke, and get to an area of clear air. Lie the  person down on their side and not on their back, and ensure that they are not choking. If the person is shivering, drape a blanket or a jacket over them. If the person is having difficulty breathing, administer CPR treatment if you are trained, or locate a trained professional for help. It’s important to keep yourself out of harm’s way when helping others and consult a doctor immediately after, regardless of the severity of the symptoms.


Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be in deep water to be at risk of drowning. It can happen even in shallow pools and bodies of water that aren’t very deep. It has a fairly straightforward solution — you need to expel the water that has entered the lungs.

  • First aid tips: The first and foremost call to action if you notice someone drowning is to alert the appropriate authorities. If you are on land, inform a lifeguard on duty or call the emergency services for help. If you are in the water, pull the person out of the water. To check their breathing, place your ear next to their nose and mouth. Look for movement of their chest, which signals breathing, and then check their pulse. If they are breathing normally, cover them with blankets to protect them from hypothermia. If they are not breathing, perform CPR (only if you are trained). Otherwise, get help immediately. It is important to call for medical help, even if the person appears to be breathing and recovering normally.

A leech bite

Leeches are fittingly known as blood suckers, and they lovingly feast on your blood. They are found in swamps or marshy areas of forests and can be a disconcerting sight.

  • First aid tips: Do not try and shake the leech off or pull it off, as this will lead to bleeding. You can put a tiny amount of salt, salt water or vinegar on the leech to make it fall of. Don’t use heat to remove it, either. However, the best course of action is simply to wait, as leeches are fairly harmless. They will automatically let go after a while. After the leech has detached, wash the area with soap and water, and apply an ice pack to the area. There is likely to be some bleeding; to stop it, simply apply pressure to the spot.



Everyday things in your purse or backpack may come to your rescue in certain situations. Keep these items as they will come handy.

  • Safety pins: These are not the most common item you’ll find in a purse anymore, but if you do have them, they can help to hold bandages in place and can even be used to remove splinters.
  • Petroleum jelly: Present in most lip balms, can be used to keep a wound clean and protect the site from infection.
  • Sanitary napkins: That’s right ladies! These uncomfortable things will work perfectly to cover up a nasty gash, and can be used as a compress and dressing for a wound.
  • Hand sanitizer: This is an item that we’ve slowly become accustomed to, and incidently it is the perfect salve to disinfect a wound. If you have nothing else, you can use your hand sanitizer to clean a wound; the alcohol in it acts as a disinfectant. But be warned, it will surely sting!


Essential aids

Make sure that you carry at least a few of these items with you. You never know when they might come to someone’s aid.

  • Triangular bandages
  • Antiseptic cream and wipes
  • Tweezers
  • Insect repellent spray
  • Painkiller medicines
  • Cotton pads and buds
  • A compact mirror



As we take care of our kind, we should not forget our pets. But, since they require different medication, treating their accidents isn’t always common knowledge. Here are some basic tips when it comes to pets.

Bleeding wounds and cuts: Place a thick clean cloth or gauze pad on top of the wound and apply pressure for about three minutes or until the wound clots. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, tie a tourniquet above the wound to slow down blood supply to the wound. But remember to loosen the tourniquet for about 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes.

Choking: It might be difficult to figure out if your pet is choking. Look for symptoms like difficulty in breathing, excessive pawing of their face or choking sounds. Check your pet’s mouth and try to remove the foreign object using a tweezer. Don’t try too hard as your attempts to remove it may push it deeper into their throat. At this stage, give your pet CPR and rush them to a vet.

Fever: If your dog’s body temperature is higher than 103°F, it is considered a fever. Never give your dogs human medicine. Cool them down by putting water on their fur, especially around their ears and feet.

Eating harmful stuff: Dogs often eat things that they are not supposed to and in some cases, you might want to initiate vomiting (on your vet’s advice). Give your dog 1ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide for every pound it weighs. But remember to give it this solution within two hours of consuming the harmful stuff.

Note: Injured or sick animals can react unpredictably and sometimes even violently to attempts to tend to discomfort, and so, it’s advised to practise caution. Muzzle your dog (unless they’re vomiting or choking) to keep them from attacking you or biting at their wounds. In case of cats or small dogs, lightly wrap them in a blanket to stabilise them before examining the wound.

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