From toddlers to seniors, a person’s life can seem full of accidents, scrapes, bumps, and other injuries both big and small. When these things happen, there is typically the need for some form of first aid. First aid is a type of initial care that is given to someone who is injured or ill. It is often the first treatment before professional or full medical attention is given. To administer basic first aid, one does not need to be a paramedic, nor are they required to have attended nursing school or some other lengthy program; however, some training is often necessary to give certain types of aid. Everyone from teens to teachers to parents can learn how to treat a first aid crisis and identify when further medical attention is needed.
Because injuries and accidents happen when least expected, it helps to be as prepared as possible. One way to do that is to purchase a first aid book. This type of book gives tips on how to treat common injuries and advises when to seek medical care, immediate or otherwise. Some accidents require immediate attention, which precludes flipping through the pages of a first aid guide. Learning the Heimlich maneuver, for example, allows for immediate action if a person begins to choke. One can also be prepared for things such as accidental poisoning by keeping the number to the Poison Help Line in an easy-to-spot location, particularly if there are children in the home. This toll-free number connects callers to their local poison center, which will guide them on what steps to take. People may also prepare their children and teens for situations that require first aid by teaching them what needs to be done in these situations. Even younger children can be taught what to do in certain cases.
First aid kits should contain the items needed to treat accidents, certain medical emergencies, illness, and injuries at home or in the workplace. Stocked kits in various sizes are available for purchase, or a person may create their own kit by filling a durable and waterproof container with medical necessities. To create a kit, consider buying an empty first aid kit, with the red first aid symbol on the exterior, or use a sturdy container with a closeable lid such as a tackle box. Whatever type of container one chooses to use should contain nothing but the supplies necessary for the kit. Important supplies to add to a basic first aid kit include elastic bandages, gauze, surgical tape, aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, alcohol, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, anesthetic spray, disposable cold packs, tweezers, sharp scissors, gloves, and a mask for CPR. Items in the kit should be routinely checked, at least twice a year, and expired items should be replaced. Store the kit in a visible location where family or coworkers can find it. Bathrooms and kitchens are common locations to store first aid kits at home.
When a person has stopped breathing and is unconscious, immediate action is necessary to save their life. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a critical life-saving technique that can be used on adults, infants, and even pets. Classes are available to teach people the steps needed to perform CPR, which include administering rescue breaths and chest compressions. People in nursing or medical school are not the only individuals who learn how to administer CPR. Parents, teachers, and nearly anyone should learn this skill.
Learning how to use an AED is another life-saving skill to have. According to the Red Cross, everyone should be within a reasonable distance of an AED, which stands for Automated External Defibrillator. Not only should one be present, but there should be someone around who can successfully operate it. An AED is a device that is used on individuals who have gone into cardiac arrest. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, their heart has stopped beating as a result of a malfunction in the heart related to its electrical system. Cardiac arrest is such a serious and common problem that in the U.S. alone, it happens to more than 350,000 people annually. The heart’s rhythm can be restarted if a person is given CPR and receives a shock from an AED. This must be done within a few minutes of the heart stopping, however, as a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest diminishes by 10 percent for each minute that passes. Whether an emergency involves a family member, friend, or stranger, both CPR and AED knowledge and skills are invaluable. Classes to learn both of these skills can be taken together or separately.
When faced with an injury to a child or an adult, one must be able to determine if it is minor or major. A major injury is one that requires immediate medical attention from paramedics. Any time an injury causes uncontrollable bleeding, vomiting, unconsciousness, or fever, it should be seen as a major injury. Major injuries also include head injuries or anything that involves broken bones or gaping wounds. A minor injury is one that can be treated at home and does not require the assistance of a medical professional. Scrapes, scratches, sprains, and small cuts are a few of the things that people most often consider minor, though the severity of an injury is often subjective and medical attention should be sought if one is uncertain or concerned. The type of immediate care depends on the specific injury. Typically, treatment of all minor injuries will involve cleaning to prevent infection. In the event of cuts and other bleeding wounds, antibiotic ointment and a bandage are also needed. Injuries that cause swelling, such as a sprained ankle, often require elevation, a cold compress, and a compression wrap.