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Play it safe on the road

Story Created: Feb 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM ECT

Story Updated: Feb 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM ECT

Monday is the start of the work week for most people, but today being Carnival Monday many find themselves without a care in the world. Their ever pressing problems are for the moment, as some would say, placed on the "back burner."

As many take the opportunity to 'chip' to the rhythmic pulsations of bottle and spoon musicians and the distinctive sounds of pan from Jouvert bands, Dr Varma Deyalsingh had some tips to keep you safe on the road for Carnival. Just as you would have a first aid kit at home, it is good to walk with some essential items in case of minor injuries, he said.

According to Dr Deyalsingh here are some items you should try to keep close at hand:

• Different size plasters

• Stretch bandage

• Steroid cream (hydrocortisone)

• Panadol

• Ibuprofen

• Gravol tablets or suppositories

• Pedi-light/Gesol

• Piriton for allergies

• Steri-strip — to close in a cut quickly

• Flavine

• Gauze

• Ethyl chloride spray (antiseptic to ease pain, eg: ankle sprain)

• Eye patch

• Vaseline

"While on the road you can encounter a number of problems and it is best to be prepared. In case of minor injuries you can act quickly and responsibly offering assistance to someone in need, be it a relative or stranger," he said.

Foot Injuries

"Especially around Carnival time, there are a number of minor foot injuries ranging from a damaged toenail to a more serious crush injury where a car tyre rolls over a person's foot. I suggest that masqueraders avoid wearing open-toe footwear. To ease foot pain, try to get those arch support in-soles for the two days. If this pain is ignored, a person can develop a more serious condition called tendonitis where the tendons under the feet are inflamed. It is important to wear proper footwear if you plan to be on your feet for a considerable amount of time, he said.

Ear Injuries

A ruptured ear drum can happen suddenly and the cause usually stems from being too close to large speakers that blare music. A common phenomenon that takes place around Carnival time; persons can experience ringing in the ears that lasts for a few days. To prevent this, masqueraders should walk with ear plugs to use when too near to speakers, he said.

Torn earlobes: Women wearing very long earrings can be prone to injury and should avoid wearing dangling jewelry.

Skin

Many people experience sunburn but this can be prevented with a good sun block with a SPF of 45 or higher. If the sunburn is bad try using a steroid cream like hydrocortisone and apply it to the affected area.

Heat rash: In the case of a heat rash, keep the skin cool by throwing water on the skin throughout the day. You can also apply moist wipes and same steroid cream.

Allergy: Skin allergies are quite common and can come about through contact with certain body paints and materials used to make costumes. It can cause itching and swelling of the skin. In cases of body paint it needs to be removed and an allergy tablet like Piriton may be used with steroid cream.

Minor cuts/wounds

If someone falls and gets a minor cut or wound, clean with water, Flavine and keep covered.

Sprains

For sprains remember the word RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate.

Fainting

Fainting is caused by a diminished amount of blood flowing to the brain. Very tight neck pieces can block the flow of blood to the brain, also dehydration can cause fainting.

Put the patient to lie down. Elevate the feet above the head level. Loosen any tight clothing and ensure the person has enough room to breathe. They should revive within five minutes, if they do not it might be something more serious and you should seek medical treatment immediately.

Insect bites

Bee stings and wasp stings should be removed carefully. Avoid trying to squeeze the affected area as this can cause the stinger and venom to go deeper into the skin. Try to brush sideways and remove stinger with tweezers instead.

Headaches

If the headache is because of the sun or glare use sunglasses; panadol is safe for those types of headaches. If the headaches are due to alcohol excess, panadol can be dangerous in that instance since alcohol puts strain on the liver. The combination of alcohol and panadol can lead to liver damage so in this case ibuprofen would be a better choice. Headaches can also be caused by dehydration, so adequate fluid intake is important. Tight headpieces can also contribute to headaches and need to be taken off intermittently.

Dr Deyalsingh said, "It is good to have a medical bracelet. If you should fall unconscious and need medical treatment this indicator would help doctors know what aliments you suffer with. But there are some instances where persons have their medical bracelet or chain taken from them by thieves so I suggest using a permanent marker and writing somewhere on your chest if you are diabetic or allergic to penicillin and a phone number to contact relatives. This can assist doctors to save time and avoid mistakes.

"I advise all my patients if you're playing mas, that it is a good idea to get a tetanus and hepatitis B shot since both are easily contracted through blood, sweat or punctures," he added.

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