A man dressed as a pirate from the middle ages for international pirate day, showcasing some pirate injuries.

Common Pirate Injuries

What condition do pirate hospitals see the most? Yes, you got it ….hearrrrt attacks!

Ahoy, me hearties!, in case you didn’t know, September 19th 2019 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s now in its 19th year!

Created in 1995 by John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) it hit the big time in 2002 when Pulitzer prize-winning humorist Dave Barry wrote an entire column about it in the Miami Herald.

So to join the celebrations we thought we should give our mateys around the world some very useful first aid tips to keep them safe and sound.

Rigging Injuries – Friction Burns

Aaaarrrrgggghhhh, rope (friction) burns from coming down the rigging too quickly can be very painful.

Signs of a friction burn include redness, irritation, blisters and bleeding.

Most rope burns are superficial, meaning they only affect the top layers of skin but sometimes they may be more serious partial or full thickness burns which penetrate through more layers of the skin.

First Aid for Friction Burns

• cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes – do not use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances like butter
• remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin but do not move anything that’s stuck to the skin
• make sure the person keeps warm by using a blanket, for example, but take care not to rub it against the burnt area
• cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it – a clean plastic bag could also be used for burns on your hand
• use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain

Seek medical attention in the case of:

• a burn larger than about 3 centimetres or deeper than the skin’s uppermost layer
• extreme pain
• dehydration
• charred, black appearance
• white, waxy appearance
• exposure of tissue or bone
• heavy bleeding
• dirt or rope fragments within the wound that can’t be easily removed

Eye Injuries

Now then me beauties, if ye get too drunk on the grog and end up in a brawl, there’s a fair chance someone will end up with an eye injury. So what can you do to help yer mate if he’s in trouble?

First Aid for Eye Injuries

Reassure the casualty and keep them still
• Gently place a sterile dressing over the injured eye and bandage in place if necessary
• Tell the casualty to close the other eye to minimise movement of the injured eye
• Take the casualty to hospital or call 999/112 if necessary

Sometimes, those pirate brawls turn really nasty and with one swipe of a sword someone ends up losing a hand or leg – Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!
To avoid ending up like Long John Silver, here’s what ye need to do to help when an arm or a leg go missing.

First Aid for Amputation

• Treat the casualty for bleeding by applying pressure and for shock, if required
• Call 999/112 for emergency help
• Apply a sterile, non fluffy dressing to the wound
• Place the amputated part in a plastic bag or cling film and then put the package on a bag of ice or peas from the freezer to preserve it. DO NOT let the amputated part come into direct contact with the ice
• Clearly mark the bag with the time of injury and the casualty’s name. Give directly to emergency services personnel

Last but not least me old Sea-dogs, when you’re three sheets to the wind (drunk) and passed out on deck in the blazing sun, there’s a fair chance you’ll end up with heat exhaustion or worse still heat stroke – and that is potentially life-threatening!

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

• tiredness and weakness
• feeling faint or dizzy
• a decrease in blood pressure
• headache
• muscle cramps
• feeling and being sick
• heavy sweating
• intense thirst
• a fast pulse
• urinating less often and having much darker urine than usual

IMPORTANT: If left untreated, more severe symptoms of heatstroke can develop, including confusion, disorientation, seizures (fits) and a loss of consciousness.

First Aid for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

• Get the casualty to lie down in a cool place
• Remove any unnecessary clothing to expose as much of their skin as possible
• Cool their skin with a cool, wet sponge or flannel, cold packs around the neck and armpits, or wrap them in a cool, wet sheet
• Fan their skin while it’s moist to help the water to evaporate and cool their skin
• Get them to drink fluids. Ideally water, fruit juice or a rehydration drink, such as a sports drink
• Stay with them until they feel better. You should see signs of recovery within about 30 minutes

When to get medical help – severe heat exhaustion or heatstroke requires hospital treatment.

You should call 999 for an ambulance if:

• They don’t respond to the above treatment within 30 minutes
• They have severe symptoms, such as a loss of consciousness, confusion or seizures
• Continue with the treatment listed above until the ambulance arrives

So dear scallywags, weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! And may you all have a very happy, safe and sound Speak Like a Pirate Day!