No matter how safe we intend to be, and how many precautions we take in our workshops, accidents will still occur. It’s inevitable. It’s why we keep our first aid kits stocked, and keep a phone handy.
When an accident happens, call 911, evaluate the injury, and administer first aid until paramedics arrive. Keep this list of emergency scenarios and responses for quick reference.
Your actions could mean the difference between losing a limb and walking away with a scar.
If someone’s finger is completely cut off you must act quickly to try save the detached digit.
Start by placing some clean fabric over the open wound and applying direct pressure. Elevate the hand as well. As the fabric soaks with blood it may be tempting to discard it and replace it with a fresh one, but do not: removing it also removes the clot.
Locate the severed finger and wrap it in fabric, then put it into a bag of ice. Do not place the finger directly on ice, as this can cause damage to the cells.
Writing the time of the accident in Sharpie on the hand or arm near the wound can also be helpful in the bustle of the emergency room.
Keep the injured person calm and immobile. Resist the urge to remove whatever object is protruding: moving or extracting it could further damage tissues or cause internal bleeding.
Wrap a towel or piece of cloth around the exposed object. This helps stabilize it, and also absorbs blood, helping form a clot. Be sure that the wrap pressure is even and on the wound.
If the cloth becomes soaked, do not remove it, as that will also remove the clot — just wrap additional layers over it.
Keep the burned area clean and do not apply any ointments. You can lightly cover a burn with a clean cloth, but do not wrap it tightly. Burns swell, and wrapping will apply too much pressure. Putting cool, wet cloth on the burn can help reduce swelling and soothe the pain a bit.
If a hand is burned badly, be sure to keep the fingers apart. This can save the tissue on the sides of the fingers from further damage, and avoid painful separation later.
Knocked out by blunt trauma
You’ve witnessed someone hit on the head and fall to the ground unconscious. Do not move the person. If there is damage to their skull or spine, attempting to wake them or have them sit up could make things worse, including possibly causing paralysis.
Check for a heartbeat and begin CPR if necessary. Apply pressure with a cloth if there is a bleeding cut.
If the person regains consciousness, try to keep them from moving around until paramedics arrive.