Gel packs have been commonly used nowadays in order to cool down injuries as well as keeping food cold when ice is not readily available. It is important to note that even though gel packs are useful, there are safety considerations to bear in mind. Once gel packs are punctured or the plastic container is torn, the gel inside is not safe if it gets in contact with the skin or exposed around food.
What are the contents of gel packs?
Gel packs are usually made out of heavy-duty plastic that are filled with a gel that does not freeze if exposed to cold temperatures. Take note that the gel in these packs is durable and can reach a freezing temperature similar to ice but will not freeze into a solid form. Most of the gel used is comprised of non-toxic substances that will not turn into liquid, thus if the pack is torn open or punctured; it will not combine with food if placed in a cooler. The consistency of the gel used in most packs is usually vinyl-coated silica gel or hydroxyethyl cellulose.
Generally, gel packs are safe to use. The only issue that you might encounter is that the gel can be harmful if it leaks out, depending on the type of gel used in a particular pack. Most gel packs have a warning label that provides information whether or not the contents are dangerous when it leaks out of the original package. Take note that the contents must not be removed from the plastic container. Additionally, the contents should not be ingested as well.
Using gel packs on injuries
Some of the gel packs available in the market have safety instructions. Some require placing a clean towel or cloth between the surface of the gel pack and the skin if it will be used on injuries. The gel can become very cold after it has been placed in the freezer for a few hours. Once applied to bare skin, the exposure can cause frostbite if left on place for some time. If you want to learn the types of injuries that can benefit from the cold produced by gel packs or ice packs, click here.
Important considerations to bear in mind
When using a gel pack, make sure that there are no leaks. Do not keep a gel pack that has a leak or even try to repair a punctured pack. Today, gel packs are quite affordable, thus it is easier to purchase new ones than trying to fix one that has leaks.
Individuals who engage in sports can use gel packs to treat injuries but they should be aware regarding the time frame of the application of the pack on the site of injury. It is recommended to place a gel pack on the injured area for 15 minutes. If it stays longer, frostbite is likely to occur.
An alternative to gel pack is using a bag of ice since it can help minimize the swelling or keep food cold. Another alternative is using a bag of frozen vegetables, especially frozen peas since it works well on injuries.