More accidents occur in the home than in any other place, and are usually the result of carelessness or being unaware of safety hazards. An object or substance that is normally harmless can cause injury if it is used incorrectly.
It is your responsibility to protect the Client and yourself from injury. The following are general safety tips to remember in the home.
Oxygen is a colorless, odorless gas that is necessary for life. We breathe in oxygen from the air everyday. Clients who have respiratory diseases sometimes require an extra source of oxygen.
The Client may wear a nasal cannula or a mask, which is connected by tubing to their oxygen source. The oxygen may come from a portable tank, or a machine called a concentrator.
Oxygen is a medication and requires a prescription from physician.
You are NOT allowed to change the liter flow (settings), even if the Client asks you to do this.
Oxygen does not explode or burn by itself. Fires can occur when oxygen is combined with flammable materials and a source of ignition.
An emergency is a situation where a person is at risk of injury or death unless immediate action is taken. As a Caregiver, you may be alone in a Client's home during an emergency situation. It is important for you to remain calm and know the emergency numbers to call for help.
You will be given some emergency numbers when you are assigned to care for a Client. It is important for you to also know the Safety Plan for the Clients assigned to your care.
There are many different types of emergencies that can occur in the home. Use your eyes, ears, nose and sense of touch to recognize an emergency.
Unusual noises: Yells, cries for help, moans, breaking glass, sounds of impact, equipment alarms and explosions.
Unusual sights: A Client falling to the ground or lying motionless, spilled chemicals, fire, smoke, downed electrical wires, Client clutching their throat unable to speak.
Unusual odors: Strong chemical odors, natural gas, smoke, unrecognizable odors.
Unusual Behaviors: Difficulty breathing, clutching the chest or throat, slurred speech, unexplainable drowsiness or confusion, sweating for no apparent reason, bluish skin color.
A person is clinically dead when their heart and breathing stops. Damage to the brain and other organs occur in 4 to 6 minutes when blood and oxygen are not pumped through the body.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops suddenly without warning. It can occur anywhere and at any time. Common causes of cardiac arrest include heart disease, drowning, electrical shock, airway obstruction and drug overdose.
Respiratory arrest occurs when the breathing stops, but the heart continues to pump. If breathing is not restored, cardiac arrest will also occur. Common causes of respiratory arrest include smoke inhalation, suffocation, allergic reactions and drowning. Basic life support focuses on A-B-C or opening the Airway, restoring Breathing and Circulation. Persons trained in CPR should do these procedures (don’t attempt to give CPR without training). CPR classes are provided by HHHA.
Shock occurs when the heart fails to pump enough blood to all the parts of the body. This condition can occur as a result of blood loss, infection, heart failure, poisoning, trauma and allergic reaction.
The Client may have labored, irregular breathing, a pulse that is fast and weak, very low blood pressure, the skin may be pale, cold and clammy. They may complain of nausea, have trembling, confusion and or restlessness.
Chest pain or pressure that is unrelieved, difficulty breathing, pale or bluish skin color, unusual sweating.
Choking may cause a partial or complete obstruction of the airway. This obstruction might be caused by food, vomit, blood, or a foreign object. If the obstruction is not relieved, the person may loose consciousness and soon die. If a person has a complete obstruction, he will not be able to make any kind of sound.
The Client may clutch their throat as a signal that they are choking. If the Client has a partial obstruction, they may make coughing, or choking sounds. This means that some air is getting past the obstruction and the body is attempting to dislodge the obstruction with coughing. It is important to not interfere with the person while they are still able to breathe. The obstruction could become complete if you attempt to dislodge it while the person is still breathing.
If the person is able to cough or make sounds, do not interfere. The Heimlich maneuver is one method of trying to remove a complete obstruction. Ask the Client if they can speak. If they cannot speak or make sounds a complete obstruction is likely and needs immediate attention. Call for help if there is someone else in the home.
External blood loss can come from an artery, a vein, or a capillary. What you might see. Bleeding that doesn't stop on its own. Severe blood loss can lead to signs of shock and death.
Seizures are sudden contractions or tremors of muscles caused by an abnormality in the central nervous system.
Some Clients know they are going to have a seizure before it actually occurs. They may experience a certain smell or sensation before the seizure occurs. This is called an aura. The symptoms that you see will depend on the type of seizure the Client is having.
If you are present at the beginning of a seizure, the following things may help you protect the Client from injury:
Poisoning occurs when a person ingests a substance that can cause illness or death. Poisons can be taken into the body through swallowing, inhaling, injections and absorption through the skin. There are many different types of poison. Certain chemicals, plants, animal bites and even medications can be poisonous. The person may take a poison by accident or intentionally.
The signs and symptoms that you see will depend on the type of poison and the way it entered the body.
It is important to find out what type of poison the person ingested. Look for empty bottles, chemical burns around the mouth and unusual odors.
There are three types or degrees of burns.