Blood is the fluid that travels throughout our bodies in tubes called veins. This fluid is essential for life because it carries oxygen and essential chemicals to where they are needed in the body. In its travels it also picks up waste from different body parts and carries that to the places where it can be eliminated. Blood helps fight infections and it carries heat around our bodies to keep some parts warm (like our fingers and toes) and helps remove heat from other parts to keep them cool.
More than half of blood is plasma, a clear pale yellow liquid, where all the blood cells, platelets and chemicals, like hormones and glucose, float. There are red and white blood cells. Red blood cells carry a red colored chemical called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen, breathed into the lungs, around the body and exchanges it in cells for carbon dioxide and takes that back to the lungs, where it can be breathed out. There are many, many red blood cells in a drop of blood. Red blood cells are being made all the time in the bone marrow of bones like the thighs and pelvis. They only live about four months and then they are recycled to make new red blood cells.
White blood cells are the body’s soldiers, made to defend it against germs or foreign things like splinters or chiggers. The number of white blood cells goes way up when you are sick. They work with special proteins called antibodies which also travel in the plasma to protect your from diseases. Antibodies recognize germs and call out the “troops” to surround and destroy them. Antibodies develop when you have had an infection or have been immunized with a “vaccine.”
Platelets are sticky little cells that move around in the blood until a blood vessel is punctured in some way. When bleeding starts the platelets join together with a protein called fibrinogen to make a clot which stops bleeding.
In addition, the energy-giving materials coming from food and hormones are carried by the blood where they are needed. Waste products are carried places where they can be sent out of the body, too. 1
Dealing with Bleeding – D.R.S.A.B.C.D.
D= Danger R= Response S= Send for help A= Airway B= Breathing C= Compression D= Defibrillate
If you are in a safe place and the person is breathing then the next thing you look for is bleeding.
Blood can carry diseases in it so be careful.
- Wash your hands before and after helping someone
- Use plastic gloves if you have them
- Help the person who is bleeding to deal with it himself
- The first step is to stop the bleeding –
- Apply hard pressure with a clean pad on the bleeding spot
- Raising the body part that is bleeding will slow down the bleeding2
- Add an additional pad on top of the first one if blood continues to come through; if severe, use pressure point (femoral or brachial artery)
- Get help by sending someone around you or using your cell phone
- If a large object is in the wound, DO NOT pull it out. Seek help
- Tourniquets are only recommended if the situation is life threatening. 2
- Continue talking to the victim telling him what you are doing; keep him warm and calm; watch for signs of shock. 3
1. http://cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=152&id=22502. http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Bleeding
Billie Nicholson, Editor