First Aid Tips Everyone Should Know
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
by Catalogs.com Info Guru Angela K. Van Winkle
Every household should have a well stocked first aid kit and a list of emergency numbers to call, just in case.
But, having supplies isn’t enough if you don’t know what to do with all that stuff. Here is a list of tips everyone should know when accidents arise.
10. Cuts & Scrapes
There’s more to dealing with a bleeding cut than just slapping a band-aid on it. When something scrapes or breaks the skin, there are two primary concerns: infection and clotting. First, apply pressure to slow the bleeding. Then, make sure the wound is free of infection by washing with soap and water. You can use peroxide, diluted to 1/2 strength, to kill any germs, and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent any further bacterial growth and aid healing. Wrap the wound with gauze or cover with a bandage to keep it clean and protected.
Wash the area with soap and water, then use a pair of tweezers to pull the splinter out. If it is particularly tiny, you can use a needle to very gently coax the splinter out, but dip the needle in alcohol before you do, to make sure it is sterilized. If you still cannot remove it, or aren’t sure whether you’ve gotten it all, have it looked at by a doctor. Keep your eye on the area for a few days after for redness or puss, which are signs of infection.
For small burns, hold it under cold running water, if possible, until the pain subsides. Apply a cold compress—ice cubes wrapped in a dry washcloth will do—for as long as necessary. For burns covering a large area of the body, or which look very deep, go to the emergency room or call 911. If the burn covers a tenth of the body or more, do not apply cold. Cover the person with a sheet or blanket to stave off hypothermia until you can get medical help.
7. Sprains & Broken Bones
It’s sometimes hard to tell whether a limb is broken or just sprained. Don’t risk further injury by moving too much. If the injured person is unable to move without extreme pain, retrieve an ace bandage or sling (in case of an injured arm) from your first aid supplies, wrap the broken area as tightly as possible, and get to a healthcare facility immediately.
To determine whether a person is choking, see if they can make sound. They may put their hands around their own throat (the universal sign for “I’m choking” since a choking person cannot talk), their face might change colors, they might be wheezing or unable to cough forcefully, or they might even lose consciousness. Act fast and first strike their back five times between the shoulder blades, then from behind their back, reach around, place your fist just below their diaphragm, under their rib cage, and make five sharp abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver). Continue alternating between the back blows and abdominal thrusts until the blockage is forced out and the victim can breathe again.
5. Eye injuries
For minor eye irritations (such as dust or an eyelash in the eye), try flushing the eye with eye drops. If a chemical has come in contact with the eye, flush with lukewarm water for several seconds and call Poison Control (1-800-222-1222). If the eye has been poked or stabbed with something, place a cool wet cloth over the eye and go to the emergency room.
In case of cardiac arrest (heart attack), knowing basic CPR can save a life. There are courses you can take for free which will teach you the proper chest compressions and techniques to keep a person alive until help arrives. Be sure to always call 911 if you suspect a person is having a heart attack.
3. Allergic Reactions
An allergic reaction can arise from all sorts of sources, from food allergies to bee stings. If a person is having a mild allergic reaction—hives, itching, etc., give the person an over the counter antihistamine like Benadryl. However, if the person seems to be having trouble breathing, their face is swelling, or any other alarming signs, if they are still conscious ask the person if they have an EpiPen or epinephrine. If you need to help them inject the EpiPen, inject the needle into the upper thigh. Call 911 and administer if the person loses consciousness or the issue seems to be getting worse. Once epinephrine is administered, see that the person gets to a hospital for monitoring immediately.
2. Poison/Accidental Overdose
If you suspect a person has ingested a chemical or poison, call poison control immediately. Their national 24 hour number is 1-800-222-1222. Try to determine what kind of poison was swallowed so that the poison control professional can walk you through what to do next. If you think someone may have overdosed on medication, and they are still conscious, do not let them go to sleep. Call 911 immediately and keep them conscious as long as possible until help arrives. Again, try to determine what substance they took to help healthcare professionals determine the best course of action for that drug.
1. Head Injury
Head injuries can be tricky, as it isn’t always immediately obvious that a person has been injured. If the victim has been hit hard enough for the head to bleed, apply pressure on the wound to slow the bleeding and take them to the hospital or call 911. With or without obvious head trauma, if a person suddenly becomes very sleepy after being hit in the head, they begin to act erratically, their pupils dilate unevenly (they are different sizes from each other), they lose consciousness even briefly, start vomiting, have a headache, or find they can’t move any part of their body, seek medical help immediately and keep them conscious.