We've all heard several myths regarding basic first aid and are not sure what to believe or how to proceed in emergencies. Unfortunately, accidents and unforeseen incidents happen daily, leading us to question what to do next in an emergency. It's important to distinguish between what can be treated at home with the help of a first aid kit and what has to be taken to the emergency room for immediate attention. Responding correctly helps minimize further damage and may decrease recovery time.
Listed below are common myths to put your mind to rest while in your next medical emergency:
Myth 1: Putting anything into the mouth of people who are having a seizure
Putting something in a seizure victim's mouth is supposed to stop them from swallowing or biting their tongue, but by putting something in their mouth, they could break their teeth or the object, then choke on the pieces.
First Aid Fact: Try to put something underneath their head or just cushion the area with your coat or a blanket and remove any hazards.
Myth 2: If someone feels faint, put their head between legs
If they put their head between their legs, they could fall forwards and injure themselves. This is the same if you make them sit up, another common mistake.
First Aid Fact: The patient should lie down, and you should raise their legs to get the oxygenated blood flowing to the brain.
Myth 3: Making a hyperventilation victim breathe into a paper bag
This practice should not be considered proper medical treatment as it's dangerous. This is because you will make the person breathe in CO2, causing dangerously low oxygen levels.
First Aid Fact: You should get the person to breathe slowly and deeply until they relax. Sips of water can also be helpful.
Myth 4: Never move a person after a traffic accident.
If a spinal cord injury is suspected, the injured person should preferably not be moved – but this may, of course, be necessary if they are in a life-threatening location. Also, it's essential to focus first on whether they are breathing: if they are unconscious, check the airway is clear by lifting the chin and tilting the head.
Myth 5: If a child drinks a harmful substance, then make them vomit.
This is not encouraged as more damage can be caused as the vomit exits the body, potentially burning the airway.
First Aid Fact: After calling emergency services, get the child to sip milk and drink water to flush out the corrosive substance.
Myth 6: A shot of alcohol can warm a hypothermic patient.
Science-Based Response: Alcohol may give you a subjective sense of warmth, but it dilates the blood vessels, which causes more heat loss, not less. It can also cause changes in judgment and coordination – two conditions to be avoided.
First Aid Fact:
- Prevent heat loss by removing wet clothes, providing insulation, and warming the patient in a dry place.
- Add layers of clothing and a hat.
- Warm the core first, if possible, by giving warm, sweet fluids if the patient is conscious and able to swallow.
- Handle the patient gently to avoid triggering ventricular fibrillation.
- Don't let severely Hypothermic patients sit, stand, or walk until warmed.
Rapid or active re-warming techniques require special training.
Putting two Hypothermic patients together in a sleeping bag is not a good source of warming. One must have a normal body temperature. It is better to wrap such a victim in clothing inside a sleeping bag, and allow him to shiver, which generates heat.
Myth 7: Using butter to treat minor burns
The use of butter to treat burns has been a myth that has been around for centuries. The grease was believed to protect the burned appendage from the outside like a skin-tight bandage to reduce the risk of amputation. However, this method does not stop the pain, promote healing, or prevent scarring. Antibiotic ointment was not available at the time this method was published. Around this time,we began to understand that bacteria infect wounds and cause sepsis.
First Aid Fact: The best way to treat a burn is by cooling it with running cool water for at least 20 minutes. You should then cover the burn with a dressing to keep out infection. However, if the burn covers more than 5% of the body area or has broken through the skin, you should seek medical help. Not following the appropriate treatment could make the burn worse and increase the risk of infection.
Myth 8: Apply heat to treat a sprained ankle
Physical therapists may recommend alternating between hot and cold temperatures for certain injuries. The heat increases blood flow, which can then promote healing. The cold decreases swelling. Applying heat to a sprained ankle may have arisen from this thinking. However, swelling is the problem you are trying to address in the case of a sprained ankle.
First Aid Fact: The appropriate First Aid treatment for a sprained ankle is to apply a cold compress for 10 minutes, then, as needed. Seek medical attention if you suspect a fracture or dislocation.
Myth 9: Urinate on a jellyfish sting
It is commonly advised to urinate on a jellyfish sting tonullify the effects of the venom. However, vinegar is a more effective treatment if it is available. Some beach resorts, hotels, and lifeguards will have vinegar ready for you to use. Others may have access to a weak acid like lemon juice. The acidic environment created by these substances will deactivate the venom, making the area less painful.
First Aid Fact: Soak the area in hot water after rinsing with salt water. If the victim is in so much pain, give him ibuprofen or paracetamol to help quell the pain.
Myth 10: Automated External Defibrillators are complicated to use.
Although defibrillators may appear complicated, they are quite simple to use. If you can get the pads onto the patient's chest within 3 minutes and administer a shock, the chances of survival significantly increase. A defibrillator will not allow you to shock a casualty if they do not need it, so you cannot do anything wrong. However, you need to use a defibrillator and give quality CPR (chest compressions with rescue breathing) for the best chances of survival.
CPR pumps oxygenated blood to the casualty's heart and brain. Therefore, everyone must understand how to give quality CPR and use an AED.
Registering for basic first aid training classes is highly recommended to access more knowledge of what to do in an emergency. An instructor will be able to go over the basic requirements and all the tools and gadgets in a first aid kit. It's important to have a first aid kit on hand, consisting of several items that can be useful in the interim, whether you're waiting for an ambulance or treating a person in pain on the spot.