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First Aid and Emergencies

Puncture Wounds

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Puncture wounds are caused by sharp, pointed objects that penetrate the skin. Nails, tacks, ice picks, knives, needles, and animal bites can all cause puncture wounds. Puncture wounds become infected easily because they are difficult to clean and provide a warm, moist place for bacteria to grow.

Home Treatment

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  • Make sure nothing is left in the wound, such as the tip of a needle. Check to see if the object is intact.

  • Allow the wound to bleed freely to clean itself out, unless there has been a large loss of blood or the blood is squirting out. If bleeding is heavy, see "Stopping Severe Bleeding" on See Stopping Severe Bleeding.

  • Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water.

  • Watch for signs of infection . If the wound closes, an infection under the skin may not be detected for several days.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas produced from burning fuels such as natural gas, gasoline, fuel oil, or wood. If fuel-burning appliances are not used properly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up in enclosed areas.

When a person inhales carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide begins to replace the oxygen in the blood. This condition is called carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, and nausea. If the exposure to carbon monoxide continues, the person may lose consciousness and even die. Infants, small children, older adults, and people with chronic health problems are more easily affected by high amounts of carbon monoxide in the blood, and their symptoms may be more severe.

A good way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Also, have your heating appliances, chimneys, and vents inspected each year. Do not leave your car's engine running when the car is in an enclosed area such as a garage, even if the garage door is open.

If you know or suspect that someone has carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical care immediately.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If the wound is in your head, neck, chest, or abdomen, unless it is minor.

  • If the skin near the wound is blue, white, or cold; if there is numbness, tingling, loss of feeling; or if you are unable to move a limb below the wound.

  • If an animal bite is severe and may need stitches, or if it is on your face, hand, or foot. Stitches usually need to be done in 8 hours.

  • If you are unable to remove an object from the wound or if you think part of the object may still be in the wound.

  • If the wound was caused by a cat or human bite.

  • If you have a puncture wound and your tetanus shots are not up to date (See Immunizations).

  • If a deep wound to the foot occurred through a shoe.

  • If signs of infection develop:

    • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or tenderness.

    • Heat or red streaks extending from the wound.

    • Discharge of pus.

    • Fever of 37.8°C (100°F) or higher with no other cause.

      Removing Splinters

      If you can grasp the end of the splinter with tweezers, gently pull it out. If the splinter is embedded in the skin, clean a needle with alcohol and make a small hole in the skin over the end of the splinter. Then lift the splinter with the tip of the needle until it can be grasped with the tweezers and pulled out.

      After the splinter has been removed, wash the area with soap and water. Apply a bandage if needed to keep the wound clean; otherwise, leave it open to the air. Watch for signs of infection.

      Call a health professional if the splinter is very large or deeply embedded and cannot be easily removed, or if the splinter is in the eye.

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