Knowing the basics of first aid and being well prepared to deal with common health issues will help keep you and your family healthy. Lots of minor illnesses can be dealt with using basic first aid.
Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in the house with plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream, bite and sting cream, tweezers, nail scissors, paracetamol, cough and cold remedies plus a thermometer. Make sure the kit is stored safely and is out of the reach of children.
If you are going away on holiday, pack aftersun and anti-diarrhoea tablets, as well as any regular medications with you, as it may be difficult to locate a chemist. Check medications regularly to ensure they are in date.
Read on for easy to follow tips on dealing with basic health problems.
· Bites and stings
Bites and stings can be very itchy and painful. If you are dealing with a child who has been bitten or stung, encourage them not to scratch the area as this will make it even more uncomfortable. Instead, use a cloth soaked in cold water to numb the area.
If you can see the sting in the skin quickly remove it. Do not use tweezers, simply scrape the sting away with your fingernail. Use anti-histamine creams or tablets to relieve pain and swelling.
It is a common misconception that if you have a nosebleed you should tip your head back. This will in fact cause the blood to travel down the airways. If someone is having a nosebleed, get them to tilt their head forwards and ask them to gently pinch the end of their nose.
You can use a cold flannel on the forehead to stop the bleeding. If it continues for 10 minutes, or the person has problems with blood clotting or is on special blood thinning medication, visit A&E.
Cold running water should be used to cool the burn for at least 10 minutes, but can be continued until the pain has subsided.
Unless it is attached to the skin, carefully remove any clothing around the burn.
Cover the burn with strips of cling film or a clean plastic bag. If blisters form, do not burst them as this can increase the risk of infection occurring. Do not use any creams or ointments on the burn, as this can make it worse.
For small cuts and scratches, make sure they are clean by very gently washing the area. Use antiseptic cream on the cuts and if they are bleeding, use a plaster.
For deep cuts, apply and maintain pressure to the wound with a clean pad. Bandage with a clean dressing and if the wound is on a limb and there are no fractures, raise it to decrease the blood flow. Seek medical attention if the cut is severe.
There are times when you’ll need to know about first aid for more serious situations.
Find out what the person has swallowed so you can tell the doctor or paramedic. Do not give them anything else to eat or drink unless a health professional advises it. Don’t try to induce vomiting. Seek medical attention immediately.
First aid can save lives in emergency situations, and can often keep patients alive until the emergency services have arrived at the scene. It is worth attending a first aid course as this could save someone’s life one day.
The type of first aid needed will vary depending on the situation. Even if you do nothing else, be aware of the following if you discover someone needs emergency aid. Check your surroundings are safe and that you and the casualty are not in danger
Call 999 or 112 (a general emergency number that works anywhere in the European Union) and ask for an ambulance. The operator may talk you through things until help arrives. For more visit the St John’s ambulance website, sja.org.uk