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Treating broken bones

As the end of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season draws to a close, we wish to share with you some information that could be most useful during or after a storm – but more importantly, at anytime of the year.

As you prepare for the approach of a storm you can find yourself engaged in all kinds of strenuous activities, often in dangerous locations, many of which can expose you to serious injury. Climbing a roof to check on covering sheets or shingles can be dangerous, especially if you are not accustomed to doing so. The same kind of danger can arise when you climb a stepladder to install storm shutters. A slip can lead to a broken arm or leg – or worse.

Damage to your home during a storm, while you are in it might also lead to injury; and of course, the extent of clean-up work after the system has passed can also pose even more dangers.

But what do you do if a member of your household suffers a broken arm or leg and the conditions prevent paramedics from responding, or stand in the way of you getting him or her to a doctor or hospital?

A camping trip, a hike through the hills and gullies of Barbados, a game of beach football and so many other daily activities can also leave us nursing similar injuries.

Thankfully, broken arms and legs, though extremely painful in most instances, are seldom life threatening. If you follow a few useful steps you can ease the pain and avoid further damage while awaiting an ambulance or transporting the injured party to hospital.

First, here are the signs of a broken arm or leg:

* pain (almost always present)

* swelling

* bruising

* deformity (arm or leg appears out-of-place)

* numbness or tingling

* broken skin with bone visible

* limited mobility of the arm or leg.

Now, as we said before, it is hardly likely that the injured party will die or a broken arm or leg, so ensure that you don’t expose yourself or them to mortal danger by attempting to assist in an unsafe location or in dangerous conditions.

It is also advisable that you look for other injuries and/or bleeding on the person. While you focus on a broken limb the person may be suffering from other life threatening injury. Pay attention to the head, neck and back, in particular.

If there is severe swelling of the broken limb, ice wrapped in a cloth can be applied at 15 minute intervals, for no more than 15 minutes at a time.

Splint the injured arm by tying it gently to a rigid object, such as a board or stick, or even a rolled up newspaper. Cushion the object with clothing or other soft padding if available. Fasten the splint with a bandage. Secure the splint on both sides of the injury, above and below the break, but not directly on it.

In the case of a broken leg, place a board or other flat, stiff object under the leg, and tie it to the board above and below the break.

Remember, the purpose of the splint is to stabilise the injured body part until medical attention can be obtained.

You are now ready to transport the injured person for expert medical attention.

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