First Aid Basics Everyone Should Know
Accidents can happen anywhere, and if you know first aid, you can help save a life or your own. Some basic knowledge of first aid could mean a difference between life and death. Knowing what to do in case of an accident could be helpful before the paramedics arrive. You can take a course and learn everything you need to know about first aid skills, and the best bet for that is the American Red Cross.
However, before you take a course, there are some basic skills you can still learn and may come in handy in case of an accident. First aid is the care given to an injured person before they can see a doctor. In some instances, it may be the only care needed, while in others, it could be the saving grace in keeping someone alive until they get to the hospital.
So what are the basic first aid skills everyone should know?
If someone is bleeding
If someone has an accident and is bleeding, especially severe, the first step is to call an ambulance. The second step is to try and stop the bleeding, no matter the severity. Excess bleeding can lead to shock and easily death.
To check the severity of someone’s bleeding, ensure to check the color of the blood and how it’s coming out. If the person is bleeding from capillaries, the blood is usually a trickle and will eventually dry out on its own. If they are bleeding from the veins, there is usually a consistent blood flow that’s dark red. Bleeding from the veins can be mild to severe.
Bleeding from the arteries is the most dangerous because the blood is lost more rapidly and can cause death quickly if not controlled in time. Blood from arteries is usually a bright red because it carries oxygen. A wound bleeding from an artery will come out in spurts and a lot because they are larger vessels and are usually under pressure.
Always ensure your hands are clean before treating any wounds to avoid infecting the wound. You can wear latex gloves, which may even protect you from catching viral diseases such as HIV/AIDS from the patient. If you’re allergic to latex then visit Primodentalproducts and check out their nitrile gloves, a great latex glove alternative. The steps for treating a bleeding wound are;
- Wash the wound with water
- Cover the wound with gauze, cloth, or towel. Please ensure they are clean.
- Apply pressure to the wound to stop the blood from coming out. This will also encourage clotting and the wound to close up.
- Try to elevate the bleeding part of the body to be above the heart
- If you notice the blood seeping through the cloth or gauze you placed on the wound, don’t remove it. Instead, add another layer of cloth. Removing the first cloth or gauze will interfere with the clotting process, causing the wound to bleed even more
- Once the bleeding stops, apply a new bandage
Ensure you get medical help in cases when the wound is too deep and can’t stop bleeding even after applying pressure. For example, wounds on the chest area may be bleeding from an artery and may need sam medical products to stop the bleeding.
Suspected cardiac arrest
If you suspect someone or a loved one is in cardiac arrest, which means the heart has stopped pumping blood to the body, you may need to do CPR. CPR means cardiopulmonary resuscitation and is among the most critical medical procedures. When the heart stops, and you don’t perform CPR, or an AED is used to revive the heart, the person may die. However, AED use and CPR may need some training for you to learn how to perform and use the technique or device safely to save a life.
Here’s what to do when you think someone is in cardiac arrest:
- Ensure you call for an ambulance immediately or rush the person to the hospital
- Start with chest compressions as soon as possible. You can push down hard in the center of the chest and allow the chest to come back up on its own between every compression. Continue doing that until the paramedics arrive or you get to the hospital.
- If you have CPR training, use chest compressions together with rescue breathing.
- If you have an AED, you can also use it but ensure you don’t delay chest compressions, have someone else help with the AED while you continue with compressions.
Choking can turn tragic if the obstruction is not removed in time. Before you perform first aid on someone who is choking, make sure they really need it. If they are still talking and coughing, let them be they are not choking. Signs of someone choking are;
- Wheezing, gagging, or gasping for air
- Turning pale or blue in the face
- Inability to talk or make any noises
- Waving their arms frantically
- Grabbing at their throat
If the person is choking and conscious, ask them and if they nod, proceed to do the Heimlich maneuver. However, this does not apply to babies. A baby below one year who is choking may not tell you they are choking, but you may notice similar choking signs like wheezing, turning blue on the face, difficulty crying, or making any noise.
To help a choking person, you need:
- Stand behind them and lean the person slightly forward
- Put your arms around their waist
- Make a fist and place it between the navel and rib cage
- Grab your clenched fist with the other hand
- Pull your hands backward, then upwards between their ribcage in five thrusts. Do this as many times until the obstruction is coughed out
- If the person is obese or pregnant, you can perform the thrusts on the chest instead of the abdomen
If the person falls unconscious:
- Lay them down on their back and kneel above them
- Next, use your hand and place it above their navel
- Put your other hand on top
- Then perform quick upward thrusts to try and remove the obstruction
If it’s a baby choking:
- Lay the baby/infant face down on your arm and support them on your thigh or lap
- Hold their chest in your hand and their jaw with your fingers
- The baby’s head should face downwards with the head lower than the body
- Using the palm/heel of your other hand, give five sharp blows between the baby’s shoulders until they cough out the obstruction.