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8 Mistakes You're Making with First Aid

 Spread butter on a burn - you may have heard of this remedy before. While we now know to avoid this old wives tale, there are still plenty more mistakes that we make which are downright dangerous. So, knowing the basic first aid would go a long way. Here are the biggest mistakes we are making in everyday emergencies. 
everyday emergencies

Mistake #1: Disinfecting cuts and scrapes with hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, iodine or betadine

While disinfecting wounds is a smart move, the product you use can be creating more harm than good. While applying hydrogen peroxide may look like its killing germs, what its actually doing is killing your body's fibroblasts - the skin cells that are responsible for healing wounds. Whereas the stinging you feel when applying alcohol is actually healthy tissue that is being harmed.

What to do: Clean debris and bacteria from a cut or scrape by holding it under running water. If it continues to bleed, apply direct pressure to the cyst. Once you've flushed the wound, add some antibiotic ointment and cover up with a loose bandage or let it air out if possible. 

Mistake #2: Tilting your head back to stop a bloody nose

While it may be tempting to tilt your head back during a nose bleed, you're actually draining blood back into the throat. This does not stop the bleeding, nor do you know how much you are bleeding.

What to do: Keep the head upright, this will lower the blood pressure in the veins of the nose. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch both nostrils shut for 15 minutes, breathing through your mouth. After 15 minutes let go and if the nose is still bleeding apply pressure for a further 15 minutes. Most tend to resolve on their own and if it doesn't stop after 30 minutes, particularly after an injury, like a car accident, head to your doctor. 

Mistake #3: Assuming the closest hospital is best for your emergency

Getting to the doctor ASAP may seem like a wiser choice than driving to a hospital further away, you may be better served at a hospital that is well equipped with what you need.

What to do: In an emergency, call 911, though you may need to be prepared to travel. If the 911 operator suggests a specialty center that is further away than the nearest hospital, opt for that. There are four main types of specialty centers - cardiac, stroke, burn and trauma, though depending on your emergency, it could mean the difference between life and death. 


Mistake #4: Performing CPR by alternating chest compressions with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

Forget mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Research conducted on CPR found that the worst thing for a patient is not performing enough chest compressions. 

What to do: If someone drops dead in front of you, feel for a pulse in the neck. If you don't detect one, start the compressions immediately, while another person calls 911. To do so, place the heel of your hand in the center of the chest, placing your other hand on top of it. Push down two inches with each compression, about 100 times per minute. A perfect beat for this is the track 'Staying Alive, by the BeeGees'. 

everyday emergencies

Mistake #5: "Rescuing" survivors of a car accident

In a car accident, one of the most dreaded injuries is to the cervical spine or neck. If you don't move a person without properly immobilizing them first, they can get paralyzed. 

What to do: Call 911. Do not move the person, just make sure that they are breathing and are comfortable. Assure them that help is on the way.

Mistake #6: If someone is having a seizure, putting a pencil in her mouth to keep her from swallowing or biting her tongue

It is physically impossible to suck your tongue down into your throat. But should you try prevent that from happening it is too risky. Putting an object in a person's mouth during a seizure could cause them swallow it. A pencil or a wallet could block the airway and may cause the person to suck it down once they start to breathe again. 

What to do: During a seizure people twitch violently, they foam at the mouth and may even turn blue. Though seizures are self-limiting. This means that they will stop by themselves. The only thing you can do is call for help and keep the person away from surrounding danger - sharp objects, glass, heat, or falling in water. You can also roll the person onto his or her side, this will keep the airway clear. While they may seem like an emergency, they're usually not. 

Mistake #7: Tying a tourniquet on an arm or leg to stop heavy bleeding

This is an Old Boy Scouts trick that may potentially stop the flow of blood to a body part, risking permanent tissue damage and loss of a limb. Using a tourniquet would cut off all circulation to that extremity and not accomplish anything that applying direct pressure can't accomplish. 

What to do: Use a sterile gauze or a clean cloth, apply firm pressure to the wound and keep pressing it even if the bandage gets soaked with blood. You can add other cloths on top if needed. Control the bleeding by applying pressure until the person can be seen in the ER. If the bleeding doesn't stop or if the wound appears to be gaping, is dirty or comes from an animal bite, visit a doctor immediately. 

Mistake #8: Popping Tylenol like baby aspirin

This popular pain killer and fever reducer may be easy to take, though as good as this drug may be it should still be used wisely. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, overdose of Tylenol is the most common poisoning around the world. 

What to do: Tylenol has been proven to alleviate pain, so don't skip it if you need it. Be vigilant, stick to your daily limit and if you're unsure about your dosage, speak to your doctor. 

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