Take good care
It might be something as small and simple as accidentally cutting your hand while making dinner, but knowing the correct course of action for this and much more serious first aid concerns is important for you and your family. It’s a good idea to regularly brush up on your basic first aid skills, and a great idea to take some basic training to ensure that you know exactly what to do in a life or death situation where quick thinking and life-saving knowledge is key.
The British Red Cross has a fantastic free, online training program that lets you learn basic first aid skills at your own pace. Videos, a downloadable fact sheet, a quick reference guide, and a question-and-answer section help you learn what you need to know in order to feel confident enough to use your skills in an emergency situation.
You’ll learn tips such as:
- When someone is choking, hit them firmly on the back between the shoulder blades to dislodge the object. If necessary, call 911 or have someone else do it while you tend to the patient.
- If you suspect someone is having heart attack, immediately call 911 then make the patient safe and comfortable by having them sit down. Give them reassurance until the ambulance arrives.
- If you suspect someone is having a stroke, carry out the FAST test: Check if there is weakness on one side of the Face. Determine if they can raise both Arms. Find out if their Speech is easily understood. It’s Time to call 911 if the patient presents any or all of these symptoms.
- If you suspect that someone has been poisoned, try to establish what they have taken, when they took it, and how long ago it was ingested. Call 911 immediately and wait for help to arrive. Do not induce vomiting.
- If someone has been burned, cool the burn under cold running water for at least 10 minutes to prevent the burn from continuing to damage layers of tissue. Loosely cover the burn with cling wrap or a clean plastic bag. If necessary, call 911.
If you want to make sure you have life-saving information everywhere you are, download the Red Cross Mobile Apps. They put safety tools, tips and preparedness information right in the palm of your hand. There’s even a fun app called Monster Guard designed especially to help kids stay safe and prepared.
Being prepared and having all the right tools at your disposal is great, but what if you find yourself without access to a first aid kit in an emergency? According to the Red Cross, you can use everyday items to help in an emergency—it just takes some ingenuity. For instance:
- If you don’t have cold water to cool down a burn, use any cool liquid you have on hand until you can get yourself or the patient access to cold running water.
- If you don’t have a first aid kit with dressing pads to put pressure on a wound, use a t-shirt, towel or even the person’s own hand until help arrives. The key is to apply pressure to stop or slow down the flow of blood.
- If you don’t have glucose tablets, then orange juice, a few sugar cubes or packets of sugar, chocolate or any regular carbonated drink (not diet) can help raise dangerously low blood sugar in a person with diabetes.
- If you don’t have proper padding to support a broken bone while waiting for help to arrive, use items of clothing, blankets or gently hold the injured part yourself.
- If you don’t have ice to put on a head injury, a towel or clothing soaked in cold water and rung out can be used until paramedics arrive.
It can be frightening dealing with a real life medical emergency, but knowing that you have done some research and training in advance can give you the confidence you need to use those first aid skills you’ve learned when it really counts.