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First Aid Mistakes

"What is the first thing you do?"
By: Stef dela Cruz, MDFirst Aid Mistakes

Unfortunately, a first aid mistake can have a lasting effect. You may not be aware of it, but the initial steps you take to help care for her burn - any measures you take or give that can help preserve life or limb during emergency, for that matter, whether or not you've had medical training -  are called first aid. Something you’ve done in the past might actually have resulted in more harm. Examples of these common first aid mistakes are listed below:

First aid mistake #1: Applying toothpaste on a burn

Toothpaste is really helpful – in preventing tooth decay, that is. When it comes to treating minor burns, however, it plays no role. Although toothpaste does possess a minimal cooling effect, it doesn’t come anywhere close to what running water can do to help prevent further injury. First aid for burns should help halt the burning process, cool the burn, and relieve pain, as reported by Jackie Hudspith and Sukh Rayatt in a 2004 article published in the British Journal of Medicine. If running water is not available, a cold compress can be used, according to the 2015 American Heart Association (AHA) and American Red Cross Guidelines for First Aid. 

First aid mistake #2: Tipping a person’s head back during a nosebleed

You’ve probably seen it on TV: People who get a nosebleed lean their heads back. Proper first aid for a nosebleed includes squeezing together the soft part of the nose bridge – found below the nasal bone – for about 15 minutes. 

First aid mistake #3: Pulling out the knife from a stab victim

You may inadvertently do something rash, such as pulling out the knife. The instinct to do so is understandable – that knife looks threatening and unnatural, sticking out from a person’s body. But instincts be damned. Pulling out that knife is the last thing you should do.

The sharp object may actually help prevent hemorrhage, as long as it doesn’t get dislodged or pulled out. It serves as a tamponade, putting pressure on severed blood vessels and preventing blood from gushing out.Remember that providing first aid should not delay calling for an ambulance. Penetrating trauma is, after all, a “surgical” illness, said Ryan Hodnick in a 2012 article published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

First aid mistake #4: Getting a person who swallowed something toxic to throw up

Vomiting may do more harm than good – for instance, when an acid is ingested. Different poisons require different types of emergency treatment. Call the National Poison Management and Control Center at (02) 524 1078 to find out what you need to do in case someone you know ingests a toxic substance. If the person who ingested the toxin is vomiting, having difficulty breathing, experiencing seizures, or manifesting any other danger signs, call for an ambulance without delay.

First aid mistake #5: Soaking a minor wound in alcohol to prevent infection

Have you ever reached for your favorite antiseptic solution to treat a superficial wound? You know it kills germs, so you tend to stock up on it, right? Perhaps you’re forgetting the one simple compound that works wonders to wash away germs and dirt: water.

First aid for fear: Be in the know

Many people think they need to be health professionals to know first aid. This is arguably the most dangerous of all first aid myths. It discourages a lot of people from accessing information about first aid! Being afraid to offer assistance during emergency situations is understandable. Remember, however, that fear is often the result of inappropriate or inadequate knowledge, making education the most effective “first aid” for it. Hesitation and delay puts people’s health and lives at risk, but doing the wrong thing can be even worse.

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