A medical problem or emergency can happen at any time, and understanding the basics of first aid can often mean the difference between life and death. You may not be a doctor, but understanding some fundamental first aid tips and tricks can be helpful in a wide variety of situations. Whether you are in nursing school or just want to know how to assist people when they need help, learning some of the typical applications of first aid is essential.
One of the most common medical issues people encounter is when someone appears to have passed out or has become unconscious. In cases like this, you should always ask the person if they are OK and wait for a response. If they do not respond, check their airway and make sure they are breathing, then call 911. If necessary, begin performing CPR. CPR is one of the most important first aid skills you can learn to potentially save a life. You can register for CPR classes in most localities to become certified to perform this life-saving task. Choking is another common problem that can be less dangerous when you follow the proper first aid protocol, such as performing back blows or abdominal thrusts to help dislodge the object the person is choking on. These simple actions are something everyone can learn so that you can assist someone who needs immediate medical attention.
- CPR Basics
- CPR Steps: Perform CPR
- Choking: First Aid
- Basic First Aid Guidelines
- Heimlich Maneuver 101
- First Aid: Choking in Adults and Infants
- First Aid in General Practice
Injuries like cuts can be minimized with the proper application of first aid. If you see someone who is suffering from a cut or who is bleeding, first, apply pressure to the wound using gauze or a clean towel. Always use protective gloves when you perform first aid on someone who is bleeding. Next, cover the cut or wound with a clean bandage and check it periodically to make sure the bleeding has stopped. If the bleeding continues, it appears to be severe, or the person looks pale or faint, call 911 for help.
Burns are another medical problem that people may encounter. Have the patient place the burned area of their body under cool running water to help prevent further skin damage and to temporarily relieve pain. Apply burn cream, and then cover the area loosely using sterile, clean dressing. Serious burns can cause shock and internal injury, so always call for paramedics if a burn is extreme or covers a large portion of the body.
Nose bleeds are another typical issue that may require first aid assistance. If someone is dealing with a bloody nose, have them lean forward and pinch the nose near the bridge for about 5 to 15 minutes. Never have someone tilt their head back, as they may accidentally swallow or even choke on the blood. If the bleeding does not stop after about 20 minutes, it may be time to seek professional medical help.
- First Aid for Bleeding
- First Aid and Bleeding: Tips for Kids
- What Everyone Should Know to Stop Bleeding After an Injury (PDF)
- First Aid: Burns
- Care for Burn Wounds
- Treating Nosebleeds
- Causes and Treatments for Nosebleeds
In order to effectively help someone dealing with a medical issue, a well-stocked first aid kit is a must. Your first aid kit should include common items like bandages, burn cream, and gauze. It should also have a pair of tweezers, an ice pack for burns or swelling, and aspirin and other pain relief medication. Antibiotic ointment and antiseptic can help clean wounds quickly and prevent possible infection. Include an oral thermometer so you can quickly determine if someone’s body temperature is too high or low. Safety gloves are also recommended for treating patients who are bleeding to help keep you safe while you assist the person in need of help. A general first aid guide is also a good idea to have handy, so you’ll be able to quickly reference the proper steps to take depending on the situation. In a nursing or hospital environment, first aid kits are usually found throughout the facility. For home use, you should keep one close by in a bathroom and keep a spare first aid kit in your car. Check your kit periodically to make sure that it has everything needed to perform a variety of first aid tasks.
- First Aid Kit Checklist and Tips (PDF)
- How to Build Your Own First Aid Kit
- Build an Essential Summer First Aid Kit
- First Aid Kits for Natural Disasters
- Tips for Creating a Useful First Aid Kit (PDF)
- First Aid Kit Checklist and Tips
Even if you don’t have any formal medical training, knowing the basics of first aid can help minimize pain, prevent more serious injuries, or possibly save a life. Once you’re aware of the proper methods to apply first aid in various situations, you’ll be better prepared to handle minor medical issues. This skill is something everyone can learn, and it’s certainly essential for improving safety in the workplace, at school, and at home.