CHRISTMAS is a time for celebrating – but unfortunately it’s also a time for accidents.

First aid charity St John Ambulance has issued some potentially lifesaving tips for the festive period to ensure the Christmas lights aren’t overshadowed by the blue lights of an ambulance.

The frenzied removal of difficult wrapping on presents with a sharp knife, or problems mastering the perfect technique of carving the Christmas turkey are just a couple of examples where it can all go horribly wrong.

To treat a severe bleed:

  • Wash and dry your own hands, cover any cuts on your own hands and put on disposable gloves
  • Remove or cut clothing as necessary to expose the wound
  • Apply direct pressure over wound with fingers using a sterile dressing or clean, non-fluffy pad. If you do not have a dressing, ask the casualty to apply direct pressure themselves
  • If there is an object in the wound, apply pressure on either side of the object
  • Secure the dressing with a bandage that is firm enough to maintain pressure, but not so tight that it impairs circulation
  • As shock is likely to develop, help the casualty to lie down, on a rug or blanket if there is one as this will protect them from the cold. Raise and support their legs so that they are above the level of their heart n Call 999/112 for emergency help.

Minor burns can be treated at home effectively, but if you suspect the injury is severe it’s vital to advise the injured person to see a doctor.

To treat burns:

  • Flood the injured part with cold water for at least 10 minutes or until the pain is relieved
  • Remove any jewellery, watches, belts or constricting clothing from the injured area before it begins to swell
  • When cooled, cover the burn with kitchen film placed lengthways over the injury, or use a clean plastic bag. Alternatively, use a sterile dressing or clean non-fluffy pad,
  • Do not apply ointments or fats
  • Do not apply adhesive dressings or tape
  • Seek medical advice if the casualty is a child or if you are in any doubt about the casualty’s condition.

Strains and sprains should be treated initially following the RICE procedure: Rest, Ice pack, Comfortable support, Elevation:

  • Help the casualty to sit or lie down and support the injured part in a comfortable position, preferably raised
  • Cool the injured area by applying a cold compress
  • Wrap the area in a layer of soft padding such as cotton wool
  • Secure with a support bandage that extends to the next joint; for an ankle injury the bandage should extend from the base of the toes to the knee, make sure it’s not too tight
  • Support the injured part in a raised position and check circulation underneath the bandage every 10 minutes
  • If the pain is severe or the casualty cannot move or use the injured part, arrange to take or send them to hospital

There is always the risk of someone choking on their food:

  • Ask the casualty ‘Are you choking?’ If the casualty is breathing encourage them to cough
  • If they can’t speak, cough or breathe, bend them forward. Give up to five sharp blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Check their mouth, but do not do a finger sweep of the mouth.
  • If choking persists, stand behind the casualty. Put both arms around them and put one fist between the navel and the bottom of the breastbone. Grasp your fist with your other hand, and pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times. Recheck the casualty’s mouth 
  • If the obstruction has not cleared, call 999/112 for emergency help. If they lose consciousness, open the airway and check breathing. Be prepared to give CPR.

If the casualty is an infant, follow these steps:

  • Lay the baby face down on your thigh supporting their head
  • Give up to five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand, check the mouth for any obvious obstruction and remove, but don’t stick your fingers down the throat
  • If the obstruction hasn’t cleared, with the baby laid face up along the length of your thigh, put two fingers just below the level of their nipples and push downwards up to five times.
  • Check their mouth and carefully pick out any obstructions. If the obstruction is still not clear, call 999/112 for help. Continue the sequence until help arrives.