Safety in the Kitchen - Part 2: Simple First Aid

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Posted by gilly

Last time we looked at many of the potential hazards that loom in one's kitchen. We discussed how a few simple precautions can often prevent injuries from occurring.

Although we can take many actions in making our kitchen's safe, we cannot foresee all accidents that may possibly occur. For this reason, this article will discuss some simple first aid concepts that may prove useful when the unforeseeable happens.

First Aid Kits
As mentioned previously, it is wise to keep a first aid kit in your kitchen. It should be in an easily accessible place, known to all family members. First Aid Kits can be readily purchased, or you may put together your own - including (but not limited to):

Assorted bandages and dressings (sealed and sterile)
Safety pins
Safety gloves - latex or vinyl
Moist towelettes
First aid guide
Medical tape
Pain relievers (non-prescription)

Other First Aid Necessities
Food allergies are becoming increasingly common, as well as severe. As most food preparation takes place in the kitchen, it pays to be diligent about ingredients that may affect members of your household, as well as knowledgeable on what to do in the case of an emergency. If you or others have severe allergies, you may be instructed to wear a medical bracelet outlining your condition, or be required carry medicine to be administered in the event of accidental ingestion. It is extremely important for other members of your household to understand your condition, and know how to treat it.

For example, I have a fairly severe allergy to shellfish, so I am required to carry an Epi-pen with me at all times. The Epi-pen is an injectable shot of epinephrine designed to treat anaphylactic shock. There are specifics regarding how it is administered that my husband, close family members, and co-workers must be made aware of in order to buy me time to get to a hospital - and therefore save my life if I was to accidentally ingest a shellfish product.

Administering First Aid
Firstly, it should be stated that many serious accidents require medical help. The goal of first aid is to provide temporary (though often life-saving) help until qualified medical personnel arrive.

Two of the most common accidents in the kitchen are cuts and burns, so let's look at some simple first aid measures that can be taken in the event of an accident.

Serious Cuts
Serious cuts can occur from numerous sharp objects in the kitchen. It is important to seek medical help if you are unsure of the seriousness of the cut, or it's origins (IE. a rusty can lid, a knife, broken glass, etc.)

When a serious cut occurs:

  • Phone for medical help if necessary.
  • Assess the situation.
    • If possible, clean the cut of any dirt or debris by wiping AWAY from the wound with a clean (preferably sterile) cloth.
    • Protect the wound by covering it with a clean (preferably sterile) cloth
    • If there is profuse bleeding, use a bandage or cloth to apply pressure to the cut. Elevate above the heart if possible.
    • If there is an embedded object, do NOT try and remove it yourself, rather, support the object with the help of bandaging
  • Make the casualty as comfortable as possible until help arrives

  • Burns
    There are two forms of burns that occur commonly in the kitchen. A dry burn is one that occurs from a direct source of dry heat, such as touching a burner or other hot object. A moist burn is one occurring from steam.

    Burns are indicated in various degrees:

    A first degree burn refers to burning of the top layer of skin. It is associated with swelling and reddening of the skin. The casualty may complain of mild to serious pain.

    A second degree burn refers to burning the top layer of skin, along with the second sub-layer. It is associated with raw, moist skin - coloured white or very red, and often weeping fluids. The casualty may complain of extreme pain.

    A third degree burn refers to burning the top two layers of skin, as well as underlying muscle, nerve or fatty tissues. These are extremely serious, and are associated with waxy white or charred skin, dry or leathery appearance, and complaints of little to no pain in the deepest burned areas.

    When a serious burn occurs:
  • Phone for medical help if necessary.
  • Cool the burn:
    • Immerse in cool water (not cold)
    • If it is not possible to immerse, gently pour cool water over the burn.
    • If that is not possible, use a cool clean soaked cloth over the burn
  • Remove any restrictive materials (i.e. clothes) or objects (i.e. jewellery) immediately, before swelling occurs.
  • When the burn has been cooled, and the pain has lessened, apply a loosely fitting clean (preferably sterile) cloth over the burn. Secure with tape, begin careful not to apply tape over the burn.
  • Make the casualty as comfortable as possible until help arrives

  • First Aid Training
    These are just a few suggestions for caring for an individual until help arrives. However, it is advisable for members of your household to be trained by certified first aid trainers. There are many agencies specializing in first aid training, and taking a course could save a life! Please consult your local agencies for more information on how you and loved ones can receive first aid training.

    Also be sure to keep your training up to date - which reminds me, it's time for me to retake my first aid course again! If you know of an agency in your region that offers training in first aid and live saving measures, please leave information in the comments section - it may prove useful to others!

    I hope that you found this article useful, and I wish you health, happiness, and safety!

    Canadian Red Cross
    St. John Ambulance (Canada)
    First Aid: First on the Scene: 6th Edition © 2003 by St. John Ambulance

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    This Post was written by Gilly from Humble Pie


    Gilly, this was a really helpful post. I found the list of items to have in the first aid kit extremely useful.
    Also, this is going to be another post of yours I will be printing and filing it in my kitchen folder. In case of serious injuries it can happen that in my panic I forget something - this way I can quickly refer to this. Once again THANK YOU!

    Meeta K. Wolff said...
    May 24, 2007 at 8:16:00 PM GMT+2  

    Here's another safety tip to help avoid cuts:
    it sounds counterintuitive, but keep your knives nice and sharp! The duller the knife is, the more pressure you will have to apply to cut, and the more likely your knife is to slip out of the cut. If your knives are dull you slip more, cut deeper and less cleanly.

    Robyn the Slug said...
    May 25, 2007 at 10:35:00 PM GMT+2  

    Hi Meeta! Thanks - it is often difficult to think logically and calmly in a stressful situation, so whatever makes it easier for you - do it!

    Hi Robyn - Great tip - and I can completely see how dull knives could actually be MORE dangerous! Thank you!

    Anonymous said...
    May 28, 2007 at 3:30:00 PM GMT+2  

    Thank you for this! I'm preparing a kitchen unit for my homeschooled daughter. First up will be about safety and making a first aid kit for the kitchen. I'm going to use this as the basis of our kit.

    Unknown said...
    August 8, 2010 at 8:57:00 AM GMT+2  

    thanks for sharing.

    April 1, 2011 at 2:01:00 PM GMT+2  

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