Monday, August 24, 2009

Hurricane surf

I think it is natural human curiosity to want to see our natural world when it is altered by weather. I base this assumption on the number of weather documentaries and large crowds of people who flock to the beach during storms. However majestic those large crashing waves look, we all need to remember that storm charged surf can be very, very dangerous.

When a storm or hurricane passes off short it creates storm surge. This is an increased tide caused by the pressure of the winds around the storm. The
National Weather Service has a really good webpage that illustrates this.

Waves are very powerful and heavy. According to the National Weather Service water weighs approximately 1,700 pounds per cubic yard. This is strong enough to damage buildings, and can more than certainly knock you off your feet into the surf. You can be pulled away from shore or pushed back on to it.

Despite the draw of going to look at the rough surf - please refrain from doing so. During storm surge it is best to stay away from the beach. Rescue personnel are very busy rescuing people who do not heed warnings and can only reasonably put their lives in so much jeopardy before they have to call off a potential rescue.

Sometimes our desire to see things in action overshadows our need for caution. Hurricane season is upon us. During the next storm when you think how cool it would be to see, swim in, or surf the waves think of the power of storm surge and skip the trip to the beach.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to school shopping - the medical checklist

In some parts of the U.S. kids are back to school already. My older children return to school in just a few weeks. The stores are busy with all their back to school sales and we're all getting ready for the first day of school.

When you're getting your kids ready to return to school there may be some additional school supplies you'll need to shop for - updated prescriptions.

If your child has a prescribed medication that you provide to the school nurse this is a good time to review if your prescription is current and won't expire during the school year. If you provide epi-pens, asthma inhalers, nebulizers or other medications, read the packaging for expiration dates. If it will expire before the end of the school year take the extra time BEFORE school starts to refill the prescription. Three months from now when everyone is busy with school, sports and other extra curricular activities you may not remember to replace the expired epi-pen that you gave to the school nurse. Many schools will check expiration dates, but some may not. As the parent of the child needing this important medication it is your responsibility to provide a valid and non-expiring medication to the school.

In addition in some smaller communities your school may not have the services of a full-time school nurse. If child may need immediate medical intervention by the use of an epi-pen, fast acting inhaler or other device, make sure you speak with your child's classroom teacher. If they do not know how to assist your child offer to teach them or assist them in locating a First Aid Class to learn how. In addition you should make sure there is at least one other staff person in the school who can assist in case there is a day when both the school nurse and classroom teacher are absent.

Lastly when you deliver your child's medication to the school nurse make a point to sit down and speak with him/her about your child's medical history and how much information is shared. Typically schools leave the dissemination of medical information up to the discretion of the school nurse. Most health care professionals are very cautious about sharing too much information. However if your child has a fragile or emergent medical condition it is important for the school staff who interact with your child frequently to be aware of his or her condition so they can recognize when they need to provide assistance.

The back to school season can be busy, occasionally stressful and full of excitement. Plan ahead, check your medications, and conference with the school staff to make sure everyone is more than prepared for the first day of school.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

So what's in your first aid kit?

Okay, the title is a bit of a play on those credit card commercials: ".. so what's in your wallet?..." the character on the screen asks. My question is "So what's in your first aid kit?". What is the one thing in your kit that you use the most? For me that would be adhesive bandages, aka 'bandaids'. Like most households with kids, we have a lot of skinned knees, toes, elbows, shins, hmmmm... almost any part of the human body! So I stock up on all different sizes of adhesive bandages to keep with my kids cuts and scrapes. A long time ago B.C. (before children) my most used first aid supply was probably the insect repellent I kept in my kit.

So what do you use the most of out of your first aid kit?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What is an AED?

I frequently am asked what an AED is. An AED is abbreviation for an Automated External Defibrillator. An AED is used in conjunction with CPR to try to restart the heart during Cardiac Arrest.

Using an AED is very simple. Different models and manufacturers of AED's can look different but they all operate the same way. AED's have voice prompts that will guide you through how to use it, in addition there are step by step directions inside the front cover. The are actually very few steps to operate an AED, but to make it even easier I've broken it down into several steps:

Step 1 Turn the AED on. On models with a hard cover the button to open the cover is the on/off switch. On models with a soft cover there will be a green on/off button.

Step 2 Take out the package with the AED pads. Open the package and place the pads on the person following the pictures on the back of each pad. Each pad will have a picture of where it should be placed. Please note that the pad must be adhered fully to the persons skin, not on clothing. If the pads are not already plugged into the AED, plug the cables into the AED.

Step 3 Some AED's will begin to analyze the heart rhythm. For some models you may need to push an ANALYZE button. While the AED is analyzing no one should touch the person. You'll feel like you're kneeling there doing nothing; and you are doing nothing - because the AED is performing an important step right now.

Step 4 When the AED is done analyzing it will either state "Shock Advised" or "No Shock Advised". If the AED says "No Shock Advised" resume CPR beginning with chest compressions. If the AED says "Shock Advised" it will charge up to deliver a shock.

Step 5 All AED's have a red shock button. The button will light up, have a light on it, or have lights around it that will light up and/or flash so that you know that the red button is the button to push. HOWEVER (this is important, hence big letters) before you press the red button to deliver the shock YOU MUST MAKE SURE NO ONE IS TOUCHING THE PERSON. We do that by looking over the person and by saying "I'm clear, you're clear (if there is anyone else helping or close by), we're all clear" and then if no one is touching the person you can push the red shock button. The person is going to move or jump when you push the shock button. This is normal.

Step 6 After you deliver the shock resume CPR starting with chest compressions. After approximately 2 minutes or 5 cycles of CPR the AED will want to analyze the heart rhythm again. Just follow the AED's prompts.

Now this post is not intended to be an AED course, rather it is solely to explain what an AED is and the steps to use one. To learn more about AED's you can contact your local fire department, ambulance corps or hospital for an AED course near you.