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April 5, 2021
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First Aid - Open Wounds

There are several types of open wounds.

  • An abrasion occurs when the top layer of skin is removed, with little blood loss.
  • A laceration occurs when the skin is cut with jagged edges. This type of wound usually is caused by a forceful tearing away of skin tissue.
  • An incision is a cut with smooth edges, such as a cut with a knife.
  • A puncture is an injury from a sharp pointed object.
  • An avulsion is a piece of skin or tissue that is torn or loose and hanging from the body.
  • An amputation is the cutting or tearing off of a body part.

For severely bleeding wounds, use a pressure bandage until the victim can get medical care.

To care for a shallow wound:

  • Put on medical gloves
  • Wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Flush the wound with running water.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment.
  • Cover the area with a sterile dressing.
  • Seek medical care for a wound with high risk for infection, such as an animal bite or puncture wound.

Call 911 immediately under any of the following circumstances:

  • Bleeding is not controlled after applying pressure for 10-15 minutes.
  • Symptoms of shock occur, such as dizziness and pale, cool skin.
  • Breathing is difficult because of a cut to the neck or chest.
  • A deep cut to the abdomen causing moderate to severe pain.
  • A cut to the eyeball.
  • A cut that amputates or partially amputates an extremity.


This Safety Tip of the Week originally was published on April 1, 2019.

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Port Clinton, OH:, and content creator for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;



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