Follow these first aid tips in case of a medical emergency or accident.
- Stop bleeding by pressing a sterile dressing firmly over the wound.
- Apply steady, even pressure. If no broken bones are part of the injury, raise the injured body part above the level of the heart.
- Bandage the dressing.
- Apply pressure to the major artery nearest the wound. Use your straightened fingers to push the artery against the bone.
- If blood soaks through the dressing, don’t remove it. Apply more dressings and bandages without removing the dressing already covering the wound.
- Bruising/black eye: Relieve pain and swelling by placing ice or cold compresses on the bruise. If vision is affected or pain does not go away, seek medical help.
- Foreign objects: Call 911. If a splinter or other object becomes lodged in the eye, don’t try to remove it.
- Chemical: Call 911. Flush with cool, running water and continue to flush until emergency medical help arrives. Make sure to flush from the nose outward to prevent getting any of the chemical into the unaffected eye.
Shock cannot be treated by first aid alone. Call 911 for medical treatment immediately.
When a person suffers any serious injury, shock is a potentially life-threatening side effect. A victim may have a number of symptoms that indicate shock could be setting in:
- Pale, cold, clammy skin
- A rapid pulse
- Shallow (or rapid or irregular) breathing
- A highly emotional or anxious mental state
Have the victim lie down. If there are no broken bones or neck and back injuries, then elevate the victim's legs. Cover them if necessary to avoid chill. Don’t give the victim anything to eat or drink, even if the victim complains of thirst.
For anything more than a minor burn, call 911.
- To cool a burn, flush it with water or apply cloths soaked in cold water.
- Do not clean the wound or remove embedded clothing.
- Cover the burn with dry, sterile dressing.
- Do not break blisters.
- Do not use ointments.
For chemical burns:
Call 911. Flush with cool, running water and continue to flush until emergency medical help arrives. If the chemical burn is to the eye, make sure to flush from the nose outward to prevent getting any of the chemical into the unaffected eye.
If someone has food or a foreign object blocking their airway, the Heimlich maneuver is the most effective way to dislodge it. To perform the Heimlich maneuver
- Stand behind the victim.
- Make a fist with one hand and place it on the victim’s abdomen; put the thumb side of the fist above the victim’s navel but below the rib cage.
- With your other hand, push the fist forcefully with a quick upward thrust.
- Repeat until object is ejected.
- To avoid damaging the victim’s ribs, don’t squeeze with your arms; keep your arms bent at the elbows while pushing upward.
You can perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself as described above or by leaning forcefully over a chair, table, or sink.
Seizures or Convulsions
During the seizure:
- Protect the patient from injury by removing hazards (furniture, appliances, etc.) from the immediate area. If the patient is close to a wall or large furniture, pad the area with clothing or a pillow to avoid further injury.
- DO NOT move or restrain the patient’s movements or try to pad between the patient’s teeth.
- Stay with the patient until the seizure is over.
After the seizure:
- If the patient is unconscious, roll them onto their side and ensure their airway is open and clear.
- Check that the patient is breathing normally.
- Cover the patient lightly with a coat or blanket.
- Check for any injuries and apply necessary first aid.
Remember, there are many types of seizures. Some are very mild, while others are severe and prolonged.
Symptoms to look for:
- Extreme shortness of breath
- Pain, which may be localized in the center of the chest but is more likely to radiate into the neck, arms, or upper abdomen
- Profuse sweating
- Loss of consciousness
What to do:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Help the victim into the position he or she feels is most comfortable.
- Loosen any tight clothing.
- Remain calm and reassuring.
- If the victim stops breathing and/or you don’t feel a pulse, begin CPR.
- Don’t give the victim anything to eat or drink.
- Don’t force the victim to lie down unless that’s the most comfortable position.
- Don’t accept the victim’s assertions that the symptoms will pass.
If you are not trained in CPR, call 911. The untrained use of CPR can injure the victim, but may be necessary until trained help can arrive. Perform only on an unconscious victim who has no pulse and is not breathing.
- Stretch the victim flat on the floor and position their head to keep the chin up and airway open.
- Find the lower tip of the victim’s breastbone and place the heel of your right hand about 1.5 to 2 inches above it.
- Place the heel of your left hand on top of your right hand. Kneel next to the victim so that your shoulders are directly above your hands. Your arms should be straight, elbows locked.
- Press down firmly so that the breastbone pushes into the chest 1 to 2 inches. This chest compression must be repeated 30 times, rapidly and rhythmically. Don’t remove your hand from the victim’s chest between compressions. Proper timing can be achieved by counting “one-and, two-and, three-and" up to the number 30, with the goal of 80 to 100 of these compressions per minute.
- After every 30 compressions, give the victim two full breaths. Do the 30 compressions/two breaths sequence twice, and then check the victim’s pulse.
- If there is no pulse, continue CPR.
- Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with your local poison control center immediately.
- If you can, find the product you believe caused the poisoning and have the container when you call the poison control center, so that you can describe it in detail.
- Do not induce vomiting unless specifically instructed to do so. If poisoning was caused by caustic chemicals such as acids, household cleaners, or gasoline, vomiting can further irritate the stomach and esophagus.