10 Basic First Aid Tips You Need to Know

Knowing some basic first aid tips can help you respond quickly and effectively in minor medical emergencies. First aid knowledge gives you the ability to help yourself or others when minor injuries or illnesses occur, before professional medical help arrives. Here are 10 basic first aid tips everyone should know:

1. Assess the Situation and Call for Help

The first step in any medical emergency is to quickly evaluate the scene and the patient’s condition. Once you have determined it is safe to approach, check on the victim’s status. Are they conscious? Breathing? Take note of any severe bleeding or injuries. If the condition is life-threatening, call emergency services right away. Provide the operator details on the victim’s status and your exact location.

2. Perform CPR if the Person is Unresponsive and Not Breathing

If an adult suddenly collapses and is unresponsive and not breathing normally, they are in cardiac arrest. Call 911 immediately and begin CPR. Tilt their head back, lift the chin, and pinch the nose closed. Give two rescue breaths, watching the chest rise. Quickly scan the chest to find the proper hand placement near the center. Perform 30 chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. Continue cycles of 30 compressions and 2 breaths until help arrives.

3. Stop Bleeding with Direct Pressure

Bleeding must be controlled as soon as possible. For minor bleeding, apply firm, direct pressure over the wound with a clean cloth, tissue, or piece of gauze. Maintain pressure for several minutes until active bleeding stops. If bleeding is severe, apply pressure and bandage the wound, raise the injured area above heart level if possible, and call 911. Never remove bandages if bleeding continues. Add more absorbent material and continue applying direct, firm pressure.

4. Treat Burns Right Away

For minor burns, immediately cool the skin with cool running water for 10-15 minutes. This reduces pain, swelling and tissue damage. Cover the burn with a sterile non-stick bandage or clean cloth. Do not apply creams, butter, ice or anything else to a burn. For serious burns, call 911 immediately. Remove smoldering clothing but do not peel off stuck pieces. Make sure the victim is breathing and cover the area with a cool, moist bandage.

5. Stabilize Suspected Fractures

If you suspect a broken bone, do not try to move the injured person. Keep the injured area from moving by splinting it in the position you find it with materials such as magazines, boards, or towels. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to minimize swelling and pain. Monitor pain, swelling, numbness and circulation below the fracture. If in doubt, treat any extremity injury as a possible broken bone and get medical assistance.

6. Watch for Signs of Concussion

Any head injury, even a minor blow, could result in a concussion. Symptoms may not be obvious immediately. Check for headache, blurred vision, dizziness, confusion, memory loss or nausea. Do not let the person fall asleep for at least 2 hours after the injury. Monitor the victim and call 911 if you notice any concerning symptoms or changes in consciousness.

7. Know How to Treat Strains, Sprains and Contusions

For muscle or joint injuries, rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) should be applied immediately and a doctor consulted. Limit movement and avoid putting weight on the injured area. Apply ice packs wrapped in cloth for 15-20 minutes several times a day. Compress the area with an elastic bandage. Elevate above heart level to minimize swelling. Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.

8. Watch for Signs of Shock

Shock is a life-threatening condition where bodily tissues do not receive adequate blood flow. Signs include pale, cool, clammy skin, rapid weak pulse, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision and anxious or confused mental state. Even if injuries seem minor, call 911 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms of shock. Keep the person still, warm and elevate their legs. Do not provide food or drink.

9. Know How to Treat Seizures

If someone is having a seizure, ease them to the floor and move objects out of the way to prevent injury. Do not restrain them or place anything in their mouth. Time the seizure and monitor breathing. When movements stop, roll them on their side to keep their airway open. Call 911 if a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, they have trouble breathing afterwards, have no history of seizures or remain confused.

10. When to Call 911

Some key times to call emergency services include:

  • Any condition that could threaten life, limb or eyesight
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Breathing problems, irregular pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures lasting more than 5 minutes
  • Head or spinal injury
  • Injury to bones or joints leaving them visibly out of place
  • Possible heart attack or stroke
  • Severe burns, wounds or pain
  • Allergic reaction with symptoms of anaphylaxis
  • Overdose of alcohol, poison or medicines
  • Situations when you are unsure how to provide proper care

Knowing these 10 basic first aid tips can help ensure you respond appropriately to medical emergencies. However, full first aid training is still recommended to expand your lifesaving skills. Keep emergency numbers programmed in your phone and readily available when out. Consider taking a first aid class regularly to stay up to date on the latest protocols. With the proper preparation, you have the power to save a life when critical minutes matter most.

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