Though minor accidents happen to everyone, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do after you experience one. Richard Samuel, MD, medical director for Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care, offers tips on what to do after you or a loved one experiences a common minor accident, such as a sprain, fall or burn.
Household burns occur when you burn your hand or another part of your body on a hot object. If you’ve just been burned, immediately focus on cooling the burn with cold tap water or an ice pack. As the burn heals, keep it covered and do not pop any blisters you notice. Most household burns only affect the top layer of your skin and heal on their own after a few days. You should see your doctor, visit an urgent care or visit an emergency department if the burn area is large, shows signs of infection, is painful or if the redness gets worse.
Falling can be dangerous at any age but are of special concern to older adults because they are at greater risk of breaking bones and experiencing medical issues afterward. If you or someone else falls, assess whether you or the other person is injured. See if they are able get up on their own or if they need assistance. Also, check for a break or sprain by applying pressure to the area to check for pain. If you suspect a sprain or strain, you can visit an urgent care center for additional help. For more serious falls that result in a loss of consciousness, fractures or excessive bleeding, seek medical attention right away at the closest emergency department.
Splinters occur when tiny pieces of objects become embedded underneath your skin. Immediately after getting a splinter, clean the wound with mild soap and water. Using tweezers that have been sterilized in boiling water and cleaned with alcohol, grip the end of the object with tweezers and gently lift the object out. If the area becomes infected or you cannot remove the object, visit your doctor or an urgent care for help.
If you cut yourself, focus on keeping the wound as clean as possible. Rinse the cut with clean water to wash away any surface dirt and bacteria. Next, with clean hands, use soap and water to gently clean around the cut. If you are bleeding, gently press over the wound until it stops. Finally, apply a first aid ointment and cover the wound with a clean bandage. Visit an emergency room or urgent care if the cut shows any signs of the following:
- You were cut by an unclean object
- The cut is deep or keeps bleeding
- You see signs of an infection
Sources: Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Dermatology, American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, Mayo Clinic, The Nemours Foundation