Friday, April 20, 2012

How to treat bleeding children on a hike

Bleeding usually looks worse than it is, but if it isn’t stopped, serious problems can arise. In just two minutes, adults can lose enough blood to die, and the time is even shorter for children. To avoid, following the same safety precautions as for falls and cuts.

To stop bleeding, place the edges of torn skin together while applying direct pressure on the wound. Within a few minutes, usually the blood will clot. Presuming there are no broken bones, lay the person down and raise the affected limb above the heart to limit blood flow to it. Place a sterile gauze pad over the wound and hold it in place by wrapping bandages around the limb.

Check to make sure the dressing isn’t so tight that it restricts blood flow to the rest of the body; if it does, reapply the dressing. Do not use a tourniquet. Once the bleeding has stopped, remove the gauze bandage and dress the wound in clean bandages. Limit movement of the wounded areas as much as possible and treat for shock.

Scalp wounds can be pesky and usually look worse than they are. Stopping the bleeding will be difficult, but the good news is that very little blood loss usually occurs from such a gash. The child probably will need immediate medical attention to stop the bleeding, however.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.