What to do about cuts

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2011, 12:00am


It's your all-time favourite day of the year - your birthday. You've just blown out the candles. A table lined with gifts are waiting to be unwrapped. The only question you have is: which one should I open first?

So you grab the biggest one around - because when it comes to gifts, bigger is usually better. You may be hoping it's the tall Hello Kitty figurine you've been eyeing for months. Surprise! Your friend did one better: it's the limited edition model only available in Japan. You're thrilled to have this great addition to your collection.

Except it's wrapped in that hard plastic cover toy manufacturers love to use. You'll need to get rid of it. You reach for a pair of scissors. As you begin fumbling with the packaging, there is a sudden slip of hand. And you are left with a long gash across your forearm. It starts to bleed.

What to do

Make sure the scissors are safely out of reach so they can no longer cause other accidental injuries.

Dr Axel Siu Yuet-chung, a first aid expert for the Hong Kong St John Ambulance Association, says you should assess how severe the injury is.

Call 999 if:

the wound is deep (you can see bone)

an artery has been cut (blood is spurting out)

the wound is wide

Until help arrives, you should apply direct pressure to the wound and raise the limb.

Don't try to wash it or remove large objects that may be embedded in it. Your main concern is to stop the bleeding and wait for medical staff to arrive.

If the wound is less serious, you can take care of it at home. Make sure your hands are clean. Then clean the wound with an antiseptic solution.

Take a piece of clean gauze and apply direct pressure to the area.

Maintain constant pressure for at least 10 minutes. Secure the gauze in place with tape. Make sure it's not too tight as that may cause circulation problems. Do not move the limb the wound is on.

The blood should clot in the wound and the bleeding should stop. If it doesn't, you will need to see a doctor.

Steps to help a cut victim

1 Place the sharp object in a safe place.

2 Assess how serious the wound is. Call 999 if necessary.

3 Apply pressure and raise the limb above the heart.

4 Clean your hands and clean the wound with antiseptic solution.

5 Use clean gauze and secure with tape. Avoid dressing it too tightly.

6 Apply pressure for roughly 10 minutes. Reassess for bleeding control afterwards.

7 Stabilise the area if bleeding is stopped. Apply a sling, if necessary.

First aid lecturer Kenneth Chu Wai-shing provided information for this article.

Hong Kong St John Ambulance Association offers a wide range of first aid training courses.

Visit www.stjohn.org.hk or call 2524 4888 for further information