Blast and explosion is one of the most fatal types of injury due to severe organ and body parts damage, bleeding, burns, and bone fracture. Explosions may be accidental or intentional, but either way, none of them are expected to happen. This is why you need to familiarize yourself with how serious this type of emergency could be and most importantly, how to prepare yourself and your family from these life-threatening events.
What to do to avoid an explosion
Even if explosions may happen due to external forces – things that are out of our control – there are still things you can do to lessen the chance of its occurrence and if not, its possible damage.
- Make sure your home, school, or workplace is properly oriented with an emergency plan.
- Get a first aid training for your family members or employees so you can do immediate assistance to injuries in case an explosion happens.
- Make a 3-5 days survival kit like the list given by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which should include the standard first aid kit supplies, medication, and food and place it in an easy to access location.
- When you receive a telephoned bomb threat, get as many details as possible with your conversation such as the location of the explosive, time, reasons for the threat. You also need to observe the background noise of the telephone call and record what you hear that may help to track the whereabouts of the caller. After this, call the authorities and report the case.
- When a suspicious explosive is on sight – baggage or packages with no return address, misspelled words, oily stains, messy packaging, bulky object, excessive tape, and strange color – make sure to call the authorities as quickly as you can and ask everybody to stay far away from the object.
What should you do during an explosion?
- Just like an earthquake, an explosion’s initial result is falling or flying objects. Therefore, you need to first gather and hide under a sturdy table or surface.
- Once objects stop falling, leave and quickly grab the survival kit if there is any – but only if it is near you – and leave the place immediately. Do these by using only the stairs and not the elevator.
- If you are close to the fire, stay low from the smoke and move as quickly as possible while covering your mouth and nose.
- Once you get out or away from the explosion, make sure to stay in an open area where there are no hazards such as windows, glass objects, etc. that may fall or shatter. Immediately call for help.
- If you get trapped inside an infrastructure, try to access your survival kit and gather in a spacious area where there is the least possible fall out or under a sturdy surface. If your mobile cannot be used to call for help, use your whistle if there is any and always cover your mouth and nose.
Injuries from a blast or explosion
- Primary Blast Injury:
Injuries on the gas-filled body cavities – lungs, larynx, gastrointestinal tract/digestive tract, and the middle ear (behind the eardrum) – caused by over-stretching of the tissues caused by the exposure to change in ambient pressure or overpressurization force, aka ‘blast wave’.
- Secondary Blast Injury:
Injuries caused by flying objects or debris caused by the explosion where any body parts may get affected such as the eyes, head, etc.
- Tertiary Blast Injury:
Minor to severe fractures and body damage that resulted from being thrown by the explosion’s impact.
Other injuries not caused by primary, secondary, and tertiary mechanisms such as; burns; crush injuries; breathing difficulties from dust, smoke, or toxic fumes; hypertension; hyperglycemia; and other exacerbation of an existing complication.
First aid treatment for common explosion injuries
Explosions and blasts injuries may be intimidating, but you can always do initial assistance that may help the patient before emergency help arrives.
- Wear a hand glove if there is one available.
- Using a clean cloth or a sterile dressing from your first aid kit, apply pressure on the wound. Otherwise, let the patient do this with their hands. Remove any clothing covering the wound before proceeding. If an object is punctured through the wound, press only the part of the wound around the object and remember to not remove it because that may cause the bleeding to worsen.
- Call for help. Prioritize giving immediate assistance first to the patient so time is not wasted then start calling for help.
- Go back assisting the patient and apply a bandage to the wound to secure the dressing. Make sure it is not too tight.
- To help blood circulate better to the patient’s brain and reduce shock, lie them down and raise their legs so it is above their heart. Do this while all tight garments are loosened.
- Monitor the patient’s responsiveness. If the patient becomes unconscious and there is no sign of proper breathing or pulse, start CPR.
- Using water or a sterile wipe from your first aid kit, carefully clean the wound.
- Dry the wound using a clean swab or dressing and cover it with a sterile gauze or a clean cloth or a plaster.
- Raise the wound above the level of the heart to reduce bleeding.
- Call for help if:
- bleeding won’t stop
- an object is stuck in the wound
- the wound could be infected or could result in tetanus
- Sit the patient down.
- Reduce the swelling by putting something cold against the injury.
- If there are wound on the head, apply pressure using a clean cloth or wound dressing, and secure it with a sterile gauze or clean cloth.
- Monitor the responsiveness of the patient and stay with them until they recover. If they cannot respond to simple questions and their eyes are closed, call the local emergency provider.
- While the patient is unresponsive/unconscious, make sure to loosen tight clothing and open their airway using the head-tilt-chin-lift. This is done by placing one hand on the patient’s forehead to tilt the head back, followed by lifting the chin forward to open the mouth using the other hand. Finally, check the mouth of the patient is there are any object blocking the airway, and carefully remove them if there is any.
- If there is no sign or there is improper breathing, prepare to do CPR.
- Assist the patient to lie on their back and keep their head still.
- Tell them to keep both their eyes open.
- Hold an eye patch or sterile dressing over the eye and carefully wrap a bandage around the head to secure it.
- Call for emergency help.
- If there is an open wound with the bone protruding, apply a clean dressing over the wound and put pressure around its area to lessen the bleeding. Secure the dressing with a clean bandage or gauze.
- Hold the injured part still so it doesn’t move by holding the joints closest to the injury.
- Call for emergency
- Help blood circulate better to the patient’s brain and reduce shock – if necessary – by lying them down and raise their legs so it is above their heart. Do this while all tight garments are loosened.
It is best to get a first aid training to make sure you are prepared to respond to casualties properly and with full confidence. Having the proper knowledge plus the ideal first aid kit on hand will make it more possible to increase the chance of the patient’s survival.