It’s hard to believe that only a few months ago, we were all walking around together and going about our lives as normal. But as a blunt reminder of how fragile our society and way of life is, all that changed practically overnight as the global coronavirus pandemic swept our shores.
These times are anything but normal: millions of Americans are working from home, face masks are the norm, and there’s a good chance more hands have been washed in the past month than in the last few years combined. What’s more, families are spending more time confined together, as schools around the country are closed, and, according to CNN, some are already declaring they’ll remain closed until the end of the academic year.
As a country, we’ve embraced these measures and lifestyle changes because we’re all in this together, united by the common goal of putting this virus behind us. And in that spirit of unity, it’s important to continue to look out for the safety and wellbeing of those who work with and depend on us. After all, even if your staff are no longer physically in the workplace, you can still take steps to ensure they’re equipped with the know-how to deal with accidents and medical emergencies around the house.
Here are tips to share with your team, for when they’re faced with general emergencies while at home:
Emergency procedures for common household incidents
Children tend to be accident-prone at the best of times, but this is magnified when they’re bored and restless at home. All employees – but especially those with kids around -- should know how to prevent and treat the following common household emergencies:
Choking occurs when a person’s airway is obstructed and they are unable to speak, cough, or breathe. Without help, a person who’s choking can lose consciousness in a matter of minutes and risks losing their life.
To help someone who’s choking on food or a foreign object, this article from Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends the Heimlich Maneuver. This involves standing behind the person with your arms linked under their ribcage, and then pulling upwards swiftly six to ten times. These abdominal thrusts help create an artificial cough, forcing air through the airways and dislodging the foreign materials.
The Heimlich Maneuver can cause bruising and damage to internal organs if done with much force, so it should only be used on adults. For details on how to help a child who is choking, see this article by Stanford Children’s Health.
To prevent possible exposure to the coronavirus, make sure your hands are clean before moving in to assist them. If the person choking was outside recently and may have been exposed, make sure to wear gloves and a mask.
There are several ways poisoning can take place in the home, so it’s important to minimize the risk by keeping household chemicals clearly labeled and away from children. Anyone who takes prescription medication should also make sure they are kept in original bottles or containers and stored responsibly.
If someone is poisoned, the CDC recommends doing the following on their Tips to Prevent Poisonings page:
- Remain calm
- If the person has collapsed or isn’t breathing, or you know that it’s a poisoning emergency, then call 911. If they’re awake and alert, call 1-800-222-1222.
- Have the following information on hand when you make the call:
- The victim’s age and weight
- The container or bottle of the poison, if available
- The time of the poison exposure
- Your address
- Then just stay on the phone and follow the guidance of the emergency operator or poison control center.
As noted above, make sure to take the necessary precautions if either you or the poisoning victim were recently outside and may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Treating cuts in the home is fairly straightforward. First of all, it’s important to determine whether the cut is potentially life-threatening and emergency services need to be contacted. According to an article by EMT-P Rod Brouhard, this depends on how long, how deep and where the cut is. For cuts a person is likely to get around the house – from kitchen knives and scissors – 911 should immediately be called if blood is actively squirting from the wound, or if an appendage has been amputated. Otherwise, there might not be any need to involve emergency services.
But whether an ambulance is on its way or not, keeping the wound clean and stopping the bleeding should be top of mind. Brouhard offers these steps to do just that:
- Wash the cut with soap and water.
- Let the cut bleed for a few minutes, to let it naturally flush out harmful bacteria.
- Control the bleeding by applying pressure. If possible, raise the wound above the heart to slow blood flow.
As with any general emergency procedure, but especially during a pandemic, hygiene is of the utmost importance. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before treating the wound, and wear a mask if you feel either party is at risk.
While it can be easy to forget sometimes, this pandemic will be over eventually, life will return to some degree of normalcy, and your staff will return to the workplace. So if you’d like to keep your finger on the pulse on workplace health and safety and AED program management, subscribe to our blog today.
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