Cold packs are used often in first aid, to treat swelling due to bumps, bruises, sprains and strains. Of course, ice is most commonly used, but ice can be uncomfortably cold, messy and bulky. Cold packs come in the form of:
Chemical based cold packs
These are disposable packs that you click or pop causing a chemical reaction inside the pack. This chemical reaction is a controlled cooling, usually just above the freezing point, lasting for 15 minutes. These are somewhat similar to chemical hot packs, in that they rely on a chemical reaction.
Want to know more? Chemical cold packs work through the reaction of gel or water with ammonium nitrate. When activated, the ammonium nitrate draws all the heat (called an endothermic reaction) from the water or gel.
Chemical cold pack fears
In a survey from the Emergency Department at the University of Southern California Medical Center, patients who had ingested cold pack materials (either deliberately or by accident) did not develop severe toxicity. Of course, should you or someone you are with ingest this material, call a physician immediately.
Cold gel packs
First aid gel packs can be purchased (often usable as cold or hot packs) and kept in the refrigerator or freezer for use in emergencies. These are available in a wide array of kits, including packs formed for ankle injuries, head injuries (cranial gel packs), injuries to knees, shoulders and many other body parts.
The advantage of cold gel packs is that they can be reused nearly endlessly (unless punctured or otherwise damaged). Chemical based cold packs can be taken and used anywhere.
The Aspen like the Philadelphia, has been criticized for offering “significantly less” movement restriction than the Miami J. It is highly rated for comfort and in the words of the company avoids, “producing painful pressure points.”
Herbal cold packs
Herbal cold packs are usually made of cloth and filled with natural herbs and grains that retain cold, for comfortable, natural cooling.
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