Minimise : home injuries and health risks from COVID 19 with proper precautions -NHSL | Sunday Observer

Minimise : home injuries and health risks from COVID 19 with proper precautions -NHSL

12 April, 2020
Ms Pushpa Ramya Zoysa
Ms Pushpa Ramya Zoysa

As the New Year dawns many people have voiced fears of how they could deal with an emergency situation at home due to injuries that may occur at a time when they are unable to easily access medical care. The Sunday Observer spoke to National Coordinator Training Programs, and Specialist in Accident and Emergency, Crisis Management and Disaster Management, Ms Pushpa Ramya Zoysa on how they should deal with such situations while avoiding exposing themselves to the COVID 19 virus.


Q. The New Year falls this year amid fears of the COVID-19 virus now spreading throughout the country. As a specialist in Accident and Emergency, Crisis Management , and Disaster Management what kind of home accidents and emergency situations could arise from families getting together despite curfews to celebrate the event?

A. Falling objects - When children start to move around on their own, there is an increased danger of them pulling objects down on top of themselves. Being conscious of your kids' health means making sure any trailing electrical leads, tablecloth edges and dish towels are out of reach, to help prevent accidents.

Tripping and Falls A fall can affect people of all ages, but they are most common among the very young and the very old. Often, falling over as a child would only hurt their pride and a few soothing words is all that’s needed. However, if the person who has fallen subsequently becomes drowsy, vomits or loses consciousness, it is important to seek medical advice.


Even a fall that isn't serious can lead to nasty bruising which can be quite painful. Applying a cold pack to the area can reduce swelling. Sometimes severe bruising can hide more serious issues such as broken bones, so if there is continuous pain or movement of a limb is restricted or impossible, professional help should be sought.


A sprain is when a ligament, which connects parts of a joint, is stretched, twisted or torn. Knees, ankles and wrists are the most common parts of the body affected. If this occurs, apply an ice pack, rest the affected area and give it time to heal.


Any cut means there will be some blood, and this can be one of the most difficult things involved in first aid for children. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding and apply an antiseptic to the area. Assessing the situation is important, but if the blood stops following pressure, it is likely a minor cut that will not need stitches.


Hot drinks cause most burns and scalds to children under the age of five and, of course, children should be kept a safe distance away from open fires, cookers, irons, hair straighteners and matches. Any burn should be held under normal running water for 15 minutes and then assessed. Adults – 20 minutes.


Children can often have a fascination with putting objects in their mouth and swallowing them, meaning that choking is a common hazard. If you cannot dislodge the object promptly, call 1990 immediately.


Most poisoning incidents involve medicines, household products and cosmetics around the house. It is important to keep anything that might be dangerous if swallowed well out of reach of children as an essential part of first aid in the home.

Glass-related injuries

Broken glass can cause serious cuts and use of the material around the home in furniture or fittings should be carefully considered if you have a young family. Make sure doors, tables and shelving conform to safety standards.


Young children can drown in very shallow water, and should be supervised at all times when near it. This includes ornamental garden ponds, water features and even baths.

Q. Who are those most at risk of such sudden accidents caused by excessive celebrations? The Elderly? Children? Why? Is there a gender difference?

A. Majority of the victims 68% were male and 32% were females (Sours –Accident Service /NHSL)

Age 20 to 60 reported 70% of the victims

Q. How do you prevent these home injuries during a crisis period as now?

A. No matter how much we strive to make our domestic environment safe, accidents at home could still happen - even in the most conscientious of households. When it comes to the health of our families, especially for those with young children, it makes sense to know exactly what to do if these common scenarios do occur.

Q. Many people are stressed being cooped inside the house and young people especially, long to get outside, even at the risk of exposing themselves to the COVID virus. What is your advice to them?

A. My advice is, they should behave in a responsible manner. Practise “social distancing” to blunt the spread of the virus. Let’s NOT be social – the virus doesn’t spread itself… people spread it! Now is the time to stay home to “flatten that curve”.

Q. What should the family as a whole do to minimise the risk of infecting each other when stuck inside the house?

A. Practice good hand hygiene, wash your hands frequently, especially before you eat, after you use the restroom, blow your nose or cough or before you touch your face. Good hand hygiene includes washing your hands for more than 20 seconds, including in between your fingers and under your nails, using plenty of soap and warm water. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol. Cover your cough or sneeze so that the droplets don’t spread to others. The best way to cough or sneeze is into your elbow and not your hands.

Q. For housewives afraid their groceries will run out and experience anxiety due to this?

A. Buy a 4-week supply of food, household products and cleaning products in case we are in a situation where social isolation or quarantine is necessary. Don’t forget to wear a cloth covering on your face at all times when you are not at home.

Q. What about those suffering from non communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, heart problems? If they run out of their drugs they are likely to go to the nearest pharmacy to buy them, thus exposing themselves to the virus and compromising their already lowered immune systems. What is your advice to them?

A.I would tell them to buy a 60-90 day supply of drugs. Some state pharmacies are already doing this The purpose of this is not because we are going to “run out” of things, but because we want to avoid going to a crowded public place. Also do help out an elderly neighbor who may be in need, is elderly, or has chronic medical problems and can’t go out to stock up.

Q. If someone has a toothache or requires a dental filling is it advisable to go to a dentist at this time?

A. Cancel elective dental, medical, recreational and non-essential appointments as these can interfere with social distancing.

Q If called to treat an injured person during New Year and the patient shows symptoms of COVID what precautions do you take to protect those living with him/her, yourself, and the health staff as well as those living in the vicinity ?

A. Call ahead to the doctor/emergency room before you head there if you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19. You should also wear a facemask to protect others.

Q. Advice to someone caring for a COVID patient?

A. Wear a face mask and gloves if you are caring for someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Wash your hands before you wear your mask. Only touch the ear loops. Wipe down all surfaces you come into contact with. Any regular bleach-containing household products is likely to be effective. You can also make a cleaning solution with 5 tablespoons bleach mixed with one gallon of water.(Or any other anti-septic solution)

Q. Have you any more Dos and Don’ts for the public during the COVID outbreak?

A. 1. Do wear a cloth covering on your face at all times when you are not at home.

2. Do work from home. Leave your home only for essential reasons, such as buying food or medications. If you have to go out, protect yourself and your family members from close contact (stay more than 1 Meter away.

3. Do move away from others who cough or sneeze

4. Do be mindful of what surfaces you touch and how frequently you touch your face

Q. How do you protect small children from the virus in a domestic setting?

A. For kids, wipe down their toys or wash them in soap and water. The same is true for packages. To be safe, wash your hands after you handle a package. Virus particles can survive for days on hard (non-porous) surfaces so it is important to keep these clean. Wipe down doorknobs, countertops, stairway railings and light switches in your home once every 2-3 days

Q.. What about phones? Credit cards?

A. Wipe your phone with disinfectant wipes or 70% isopropyl alcohol as it touches your hands and your face often. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling cash or credit cards before touching your face.

Q. Any health tips to increase immunity to the disease?

A. Do protect your immune system by getting your vaccinations, eating a balanced diet, avoiding too much alcohol, getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy weight. If you are vitamin deficient, you can consider supplementation of Vitamin C at normal daily doses. High dose IV doses have not been established to be safe or effective. Eat home cooked food as far as possible. Do regular exercise in home. Stay informed of the situation as events and advisories are rapidly evolving.

Q. If you suspect you have COVID what should you do?

A, If you have shortness of breath, or are in a high-risk group or have progressive symptoms, call your doctor’s office right away. If your symptoms are mild and can be managed at home, you are unlikely to get a COVID-19 test based on current guidelines in Colorado and it reduces your risk if you avoid going to the doctor

Do look for red flags, like shortness of breath, fever >102F and worsening symptoms. Do seek medical care if you develop any of these symptoms at any time.

Do self-quarantine yourself for 14 days if you come into contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus.

DON’Ts ?

1. Don’t just tie a scarf around your face as that can be loose fitting and need more adjustment. Use a cloth covering that is more tight-fitting.

2. Don’t panic – It is not a ‘panic-demic’ but don’t take this lightly either, especially if you are healthy! Emotional contagion is the spread of fear or panic and is more contagious than the virus itself. Yes, this is serious stuff. Yes, this will impact our way of life for some time. Most of us (81%) who get it will get a mild case or mild respiratory illness, just like the flu. However, even young people can have fatal complications of the disease. And, if the 20% who end up in the hospital all get sick at the same time, we will overwhelm the medical system. So, it is time for EVERYONE to take this seriously and participate in “social distancing” together.

3. Don’t put your shoes on surfaces you may touch. We know that the coronavirus can sustain itself on surfaces, but don’t yet know for how long. Since we don’t typically sanitize the bottom of our shoes, we should try to avoid contact of shoes with jackets, scarves, purses, pens or other surfaces we commonly touch.

4. Don’t interact with your pets if you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19.

5. Don’t treat “social distancing” like a “vacation”. This is not the time to run errands or go to the mountains. It is important to stay home and stay away from others. Do talk to your teenage/adolescent kids about it.

6. Don’t plan “play dates” for your kids if they are not in school. The reason schools are closed is because of “social distancing” and getting a number of kids and parents together defeats that purpose by increasing contact.

7. Don’t share utensils or drinking glasses with others, including family members.

8. Don’t shake hands or give hugs as greetings. Use an alternative greeting that maintains 6-8 feet of distance.

9. Don’t visit your older relatives or community members, as they are the highest risk group.

10. Don’t call for testing if you don’t have symptoms as testing is not recommended if you don’t have symptoms.