First Aid For The Family

Emergencies don’t ring the doorbell and wait; they rush in when you are not expecting them and cause panic and stress. As family you may try your best to be safe, take certain measures to prevent accidents but, despite your best efforts, emergencies arise. You need to keep the affected member of the family safe till the medical help arrives. Do you or the members of your family know what should be the respective First Aid responses in a number of common emergency situations?

CUTS, SCRAPES, BRUISES: Cuts, scrapes and bruises are part of a normal childhood. Most injuries are minor and can be treated easily at home. Some are more serious and require medical treatment. Knowing when to see your doctor about a cut or a scrape can be challenging. If you are concerned about how severe or deep an injury is, if it is difficult to control bleeding or if the wound is too painful to clean thoroughly, a visit to your family doctor is in order. If skin edges gape around a cut, have it examined and treated by a doctor within a few hours. The same basic guidelines apply to the care of any wound. With these basics, you can provide proper first aid and know when a situation is serious enough to demand professional advice.

Steps to control bleeding: It is easy to control slight bleeding from minor cuts and scrapes. Use

  • Direct pressure – Apply pressure directly to the wound to stop blood flow and allow clots to form. Once bleeding is controlled, continue to apply pressure while calling your doctor.
  • Elevation – Raise the injured limb above the level of the heart so gravity can reduce blood flow to the wound area. Elevate the limb as high as is comfortable.
  • Rest – Place the person in a comfortable resting position to reduce the pulse rate. Unless the head is bleeding, keep the person lying down with feet and legs elevated. Anyone with a head wound should be kept comfortable in a sitting position till the doctor arrives.

If the bleeding is profuse or does not stop quickly, blood loss can lead to shock. Get medical help immediately.

For minor wounds:

All open wounds are contaminated to some extent. There’s always a risk of infection until the wound is completely healed. Follow the guidelines listed below for cleaning a wound.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water and put on latex gloves if available.
  • Do not cough or breathe directly over the wound.
  • Fully expose the wound but do not touch it.
  • Gently wash loose material from the surface of wound. Wash and dry surrounding skin with clean dressings, wiping away from the wound. Apply a thin film of antibiotic ointment to an abrasion that does not appear to need medical attention.
  • Cover the wound promptly with a sterile dressing. Tape the dressing in place. Choose an adhesive bandage appropriate for the cut.

BURNS: First-degree burns where the skin is not badly damaged can be treated at home.

  • Cool the burn right away; immerse it in cool water or pour cool water on the area or cover it with a clean, wet cloth.
  • Loosen or remove anything that is tight on the burned area including jewellery, wrist watch and clothing. Do this as soon as you can, before the injury swells. Do not remove anything that is stuck.
  • When the pain has lessened, loosely cover the burn with a clean, lint-free dressing.
  • If you don’t know how severe the burn is, call for immediate medical attention. Cover the area with a clean dressing or, if the area is large, use a sheet. Secure the dressing with tape, making sure there is no tape on the burned area.
  • Keep the person comfortable and observing them carefully.


  • breathe on, cough over or touch the burned area.
  • cover a burn with cotton wool or other fluffy material.
  • break blisters.
  • remove clothing that is stuck to the burned area.

POISONING: Poison can be inhaled or swallowed. If you suspect someone has been poisoned, immediately call the doctor but also try and find out what could have caused the poisoning. It will make things easier for your doctor to advise you. Swallowed poisons usually cause nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea or vomiting and may affect consciousness, breathing and pulse. Lips may be discoloured and breath may have a strange odour. Inhaled poisons affect breathing, and may affect consciousness and the pulse. There may be coughing, chest pain and laboured breathing.

In case of poisoning what you can do:

  • Check for poisonous material in or around the mouth. If there is any sign of the poison, wipe it off. If you can try to use the mouth-to-nose method of artificial respiration.
  • Place a person who is breathing and unconscious into the recovery position.
  • Stay with the person until medical help takes over.
  • Don’t force a person to vomit unless you are told to do so by the doctor. Some poisons cause more damage when vomited.
  • In case of inhaled poison, move the person to fresh air and away from the source of the poison.
  • If there is vomiting, keep the airway open by clearing out the mouth and putting the person into the recovery position.
  • In the case of convulsions, shift the person away from objects that may cause injury.

Be prepared and protect your loved ones from untoward incidents. Your First Aid skills can save their lives.

A good First Aid Kit should always contain the following

Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, Sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes, Hypoallergenic adhesive tape, Scissors, Tweezers, Needle, Ace bandage, Moistened towels/napkins, Antiseptic, Thermometer, Tongue blades, Splints in assorted sizes, Petroleum jelly, Assorted sizes of safety pins, Anti-bacterial soap, Antibiotic ointment Latex gloves and facemask, Sunscreen, Aspirin and/or ibuprofen, Ice Pack.

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