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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Aid: Choking

via Mayo Clinic

Choking occurs when a foreign object becomes lodged in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air. In adults, a piece of food often is the culprit. Young children often swallow small objects. Because choking cuts off oxygen to the brain, administer first aid as quickly as possible.

The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person doesn't give the signal, look for these indications:

-Inability to talk
-Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
-Inability to cough forcefully
-Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky
-Loss of consciousness

If choking is occurring, the Red Cross recommends a "five-and-five" approach to delivering first aid:

1. First, deliver five back blows between the person's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
2. Next, perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).
3. Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.

To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on someone else:

1. Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.
2. Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person's navel.
3. Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.
4. Perform a total of five abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still isn't dislodged, repeat the five-and-five cycle.

If you're the only rescuer, perform back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911 or your local emergency number for help. If another person is available, have that person call for help while you perform first aid.

If the person becomes unconscious, perform standard CPR with chest compressions.

If you're alone and choking, you'll be unable to effectively deliver back blows to yourself. However, you can still perform abdominal thrusts to dislodge the item.

To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on yourself:

1. Place a fist slightly above your navel.
2. Grasp your fist with the other hand and bend over a hard surface — a countertop or chair will do.
3. Shove your fist inward and upward.

Clearing the airway of a pregnant woman or obese person:

1. Position your hands a little bit higher than with a normal Heimlich maneuver, at the base of the breastbone, just above the joining of the lowest ribs.
2. Proceed as with the Heimlich maneuver, pressing hard into the chest, with a quick thrust.
3. Repeat until the food or other blockage is dislodged or the person becomes unconscious.

Clearing the airway of an unconscious person:

1. Lower the person on his or her back onto the floor.
2. Clear the airway. If there's a visible blockage at the back of the throat or high in the throat, reach a finger into the mouth and sweep out the cause of the blockage. Be careful not to push the food or object deeper into the airway, which can happen easily in young children.
3. Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the object remains lodged and the person doesn't respond after you take the above measures. The chest compressions used in CPR may dislodge the object. Remember to recheck the mouth periodically.

Clearing the airway of a choking infant younger than age 1:

1. Assume a seated position and hold the infant facedown on your forearm, which is resting on your thigh.
2. Thump the infant gently but firmly five times on the middle of the back using the heel of your hand. The combination of gravity and the back blows should release the blocking object.
3. Hold the infant faceup on your forearm with the head lower than the trunk if the above doesn't work. Using two fingers placed at the center of the infant's breastbone, give five quick chest compressions.
4. Repeat the back blows and chest thrusts if breathing doesn't resume. Call for emergency medical help.
5. Begin infant CPR if one of these techniques opens the airway but the infant doesn't resume breathing.

If the child is older than age 1, give abdominal thrusts only.

**To prepare yourself for these situations, learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR in a certified first-aid training course.

Nowhere to go

It has been asked, "If you do all this prepping at home, and SHTF while you're away, then what good was all that prepping?"

For starters prepping isn't all about food and guns. It's about keeping little tidbits of info in the back of your mind, so that if an emergency of any kind were to creep up, you would have some idea of what you can or can not, should or should not do. Pretty simple.

As a homesteader, my goal is to survive winter. That's about it. That is why I talk a lot about food, and plant identification. But being a person that lives in Kansas I should be prepared for tornadoes, floods, blizzards, micro bursts, hail, fires and the combination of the many. And at home I am. Away from home could be another story.

If something should happen, home is your best and safest place to go. As I mentioned in a previous post, now is a good time to be a kid again, and go explore your neighborhood. Find the various ways to cheat your way home, get to know the dogs, neighbors and shop keepers in your area. If something should happen and I can't get back home, I know which fields are the easiest to hoof it through.

So your house is gone. The first thing you'll want to do is grieve. But please try to keep your wits about you. It will be hard, but it is important. For natural disasters, you should find your closest red cross tent, fire station, hospital or neighbor with a house still standing. (you did remember to get to know your neighbors, right?) Once safe, you can grieve more.

If you happen to be a tourist, don't rubber neck, and head back to where you are staying. If your relatives house is still standing or your hotel, stay put and volunteer to help others. If everything you have is gone, and you are able to, then leave. You will just be a burden and strain on that communities resources.

Back to being away from home and unable to get there, along with your 72 hour kit, you should have a small tent. Camping will be important. If you can do it on your own property, wonderful, you will be able to stay and salvage some of your goods. If this isn't feasible, please remember not to camp just anywhere. Head to a known public camping area. Here you can find the nearest KOA to you, and here is for general camp sites.

Here is a weird thing, chat up whomever you set up close to. Community is important in these situations. You can pool resources and make things easier on all of you.

If you have the opportunity, get to know a homesteader or farmer. Show them that you are hard worker, and talk about if things could go bad, if they would welcome you there. Private land can only hold so many people before it is useless. Small land owners are quicker to turn strangers that aren't harmed away then anyone else, because of this fact. They have a family to feed as well. If your farmer or homesteader agrees that you can come there if anything should happen to you, show some initiative. Bring things out for yourself to be stored. Offer to work there on the weekends for free, while your children play together. If nothing ever goes wrong, you will have learned a new set of skills, made close friends, and discovered a pride in yourself that you might not of had before. Getting dirty and working close to the land changes ones perspective on life.

I think that's about it. The run down is, if you can not get home, say goodbye to your preps, and go camping. Kicking in your inner woodland (open prairie) survivalist mode.

Hiking Tips: Four Legs are Better than Two

They say that two heads are better than one when trying to think things through in a difficult situation.
Similarly, many experienced hikers make the case for four legs being better than two while hiking and carrying a heavy backpack. The extra legs that they are referring to are trekking poles.
Devotees of these high-tech collapsible aluminum sticks with ski-pole-like grips and wrist straps tout their benefits vehemently.

Here are some of the benefits that they cite:
1. Trekking poles increase your stability while hiking on uneven terrain.
2. The increased stability that they provide can help prevent falls and associated injury.

3. The increased stability can help you prevent ankle sprains.
4. The increased stability can help you prevent knee sprains.
5. The increased stability can help you prevent sore hips.
6. The increased stability can help you appreciate the scenery about you by taking your mind off the prevention of sprained ankles and knees and sore hips.
7. Trekking poles can help you traverse difficult terrain, especially in difficult situations like low light.
8.  Trekking poles can help you up steep slopes.
9. They can also help you down steep slopes while aiding in the prevention of the joint pain so often associated with it.
10. They can take 10 to 15 pounds of weight off your back and legs by distributing it partially to your arms.
11. They can be useful in such balancing acts as rock hopping across streams.
12. Trekking poles can help reduce back pain by improving your posture despite the weight of your heavily-loaded pack.
13. They help take stress off of your feet.
14. These handy gadgets help reduce fatigue.
15.  Trekking poles can increase your hiking speed by improving your pacing.
16. They can allow you to hike longer distances as a result of the increased speed and reduced pain and fatigue.
17. Facing an aggressive animal like a mountain lion, you can use trekking poles to make yourself look bigger by raising them over your head.
18. You can use trekking poles as defensive weapons against aggressive wildlife.
I’m sure that there are other benefits of trekking poles that could be added to this list. Hopefully those that I have provided here will help you in making a decision about whether or not you want to give them a try.  
     By Richard Davidian, Ph.D.
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