Essential First Aid Tips
Most people know how to deal with minor cuts and grazes. But would you know what if someone in your family breaks a bone? Would you know what to do if someone went into cardiac arrest?
A first aid course will teach you how to treat minor wounds. It will also teach how to recognize more serious cases and take care of patients while you wait for help to arrive.
There is no substitute for taking a first aid course. But knowing some basic first aid procedures is better than not knowing any first aid at all. So, here’s our list of first aid tips that everyone should know.
1. Minor Cuts
Small cuts are treatable at home. You should seek medical attention if a cut has jagged edges, or if the cut has exposed bone, muscle, tendon or fat. Also, if a cut has not stopped bleeding after 10-15 minutes, that’s another reason to seek help.
Most small cuts will usually stop bleeding on their own. Larger cuts may need pressure applied to the wound to stop the bleeding.
The first thing to do before you treat a minor cut is wash your own hands with soap and warm water. Then, clean the wound with soap and water as well. Apply antibiotic cream to prevent infection. Then, cover with an adhesive bandage or dressing to cover the wound.
Burn degree describes the severity of a burn. First-degree burns are superficial burns. They are the type of burn you would get if you brushed your arm against a hot stove. A superficial burn will cause pain, redness of the skin, and swelling.
If there is no blistering, superficial burns are treatable at home. To treat a first-degree burn, rinse the affected area in lukewarm water. Then, apply a cold compress with ointment, like a moisturizer or petroleum jelly. While the burn is healing, keep the skin clean and protect the injury with a gauze pad.
Second-degree burns and third-degree burns are more serious. They will need medical treatment. These types of burns will have penetrated to the lower layers of skin. Any burn that is more than three inches in diameter will need medical attention. As will burns that get infected and burns that involve serious blistering.
Blisters will usually heal without any treatment. In most cases, you should resist the urge to pop a blister.
You should only drain a blister if it is very painful. Or, if it is in a place that makes it difficult to walk or carry out daily tasks.
To drain a blister, first wash your hands and sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol. Then, make several holes around the edge of the blister and allow the blister to drain. When the fluid has drained, apply an antiseptic ointment. Then, cover the blister with a dressing.
4. Strains and Sprains
Sprains and strains are small tears in the ligaments or muscles. They can occur playing sports or you could sprain your ankle by twisting it.
The way to treat strains and sprains is a combination of rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). The most important of those being rest.
Continuing to work an injured muscle or ligament will delay the healing. Ice will help reduce pain and swelling. Compression will help to reduce swelling. Elevating the injured part of the body above the level of the heart will also reduce swelling.
Strains and sprains are treatable at home. But, if the pain is extreme, or you can’t put your weight on the affected area, it could be a broken bone. If it’s a broken bone, you will need medical attention.
5. Animal Bites
Animal bites, and human bites, can be serious if they cause puncture wounds. If a bite punctures the skin, you should wash the area with soap and water. Then, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. You should then seek medical attention straight away. Medical treatment of bites is important because of the risk of infection.
Splinters are often tiny, but they can become infected if you don’t remove them. To remove a small splinter, first wash your hands with soap and water. Then, use a sterilized needle or pair of tweezers to get the splinter out.
Once the splinter is out, apply antiseptic ointment and cover the wound with a bandage or a Band-Aid.
It’s important the you get the whole splinter out. If you can’t get it all out, or the wound gets infected, visit a healthcare professional for treatment.
7. Broken Bones
If you suspect that someone has a broken bone, assume that you are right and get medical help. Don’t believe myths like “if you can walk on it, your leg isn’t broken”, because myths like that are not true.
If you think that a person has broken or a fractured bone, keep the affected limb stable. Apply a splint if you need to move the patient. Give anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, to ease the pain. You can also apply an ice-pack to ease the pain, but don’t apply ice directly to skin.
Don’t ever attempt to straighten a broken limb. If you think that a person has broken a bone their back, neck or head, don’t move them at all.
In the case minor fractures, it is likely that you will be able to get the patient to hospital for an X-ray. If the break is the result of a serious trauma, the bone has pierced the skin, or the limb or joint appears deformed, call 911.
Whenever you put kids and bikes together, you are going to get a few scrapes. Luckily, all you need to treat scrapes and grazes at home is a basic first aid kit.
You would need medical help with a scrape if the wound is very large. You should also get medical advice if the wound gets infected or if there is dirt in the wound that you can’t clean out.
To treat a scrape, wash your hands first, and then wash the wound. If the wound is bleeding, apply a clean cloth and press it the wound until the bleeding stops. This may take up to 10-15 minutes in some cases. Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with a bandage or dressing.
9. Cardiac Arrest
If someone’s heart stops beating, the most important first aid to administer is CPR. This will keep the blood flowing to the brain and save the person’s life.
Even if you haven’t had CPR training, chest compressions could keep someone alive. It will buy time while you wait for the emergency ambulance to arrive. You’ll find more information on how to perform CPR here.
The first thing to do if someone’s heart has stopped breathing is tell someone to call 911. Then, begin chest compressions by pushing hard and fast on the person’s chest. You should be aiming for 100 compressions per minute. Allow the chest to rise between compressions. Continue the compressions until help arrives.
You can use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is available. But it is important that chest compressions begin straight away.
If you haven’t had CPR training, you should use hand only CPR. You shouldn’t try to administer mouth to mouth resuscitation if you haven’t been trained.
10. Bumps and Bruises
If you bang your leg against something and get a bruise, there’s not a lot you can do. Bruises will heal in time and they rarely need any medical attention.
You can apply ice to ease the immediate pain, and you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. You should also try to avoid any further trauma a to the affected area.
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