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Basic First Aid skills everyone should have

First Aid- LagosPost.ng
Source: BigStridz

Imagine you’re home alone with a loved one, and there’s a domestic accident with bleeding that’s more than just a little. Do you know what to do in that situation?

What if you witness an outdoor accident, and you feel panicky wondering how you can help apart from covering the incident with your mobile phone.

It can be difficult to be prepared for every sort of emergency. But having some basic knowledge can be very helpful.

Growing up, we learnt that first aid is the emergency care or treatment given to an ill or injured person before the arrival of the doctor, or before medical care can be reached.

In this article, I would be sharing some first aid skills everyone should have. Who knows, you could save a life. For these basic skills, you don’t have to be a medical practitioner, you just need to know what to do.

Don’t panic

In an emergency, it’s almost hard not to panic. But if you want to be of help, and you know what to do, you have to keep your head up and get into action.

Get to know the signs of major life-threatening health emergency conditions

Recognizing a medical emergency can save someone’s life. There are conditions that need immediate or quick attention like asthma attack, choking, heart attack, stroke, poisoning, shock, low blood sugar, and heavy bleeding.

Heavy bleeding

If someone is bleeding heavily, it’s important to stop it as soon as possible, as it could be from an artery or a vein.

To control heavy bleeding, elevate the wound above the shoulders and apply firm pressure with a clean compress, using a fabric like a T-shirt, sock or cloth directly on the wound. This would stop the bleeding to a large extent and reduce blood loss before help comes.

Asthma attack

Symptoms of an asthma attack include difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty performing normal daily activities.

What to do
Once you’ve identified the symptoms to be that of an asthma attack, look for the person’s inhaler around. If the person doesn’t have one, sit them upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.

If the person has asthma medication, such as an inhaler, administer it, giving four puffs (one puff per minute).

Do not borrow someone else’s inhaler, as the active may be different from the needed rescue medicine.

If breathing is still a problem, continue using the inhaler, and monitor the person until help comes.


If you deal with elderly people, it is important to be armed with this knowledge. The faster something is done, the lesser the damage.

To know if someone is having a stroke, do a FAST Test. FAST stands for:

Face: Is the face numb or does it droop on one side?
Arms: Is one arm numb or weaker than the other? Does one arm stay lower than the other when trying to raise both arms?
Speech: Is speech slurred or garbled?
Time: If you answered yes to any of the above, it’s time to call emergency services immediately.

Other signs may be:
1. Severe headache without a known cause
2. Confusion or difficulty speaking/understanding speech
3. Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes

What to do

  • Seek help immediately
  • Make sure they’re in a safe, comfortable position. Preferably, this should be lying on one side with their head slightly raised and supported in case they vomit.
  • Check to see if they’re breathing. If they’re not breathing, perform CPR. If they’re having difficulty breathing, loosen any tight clothing, such as a tie or scarf.
  • Don’t move the limbs on the side that looks affected.
  • Don’t give the person anything to eat or drink.
  • Observe the person carefully for any change in condition.

Heart attack

According to the Mayo Clinic, a person might be having a heart attack if they’re experiencing:
1. Tightness, pressure, pain, or squeezing sensation in chest/arms which may spread to the neck, back, or jaw
2. Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
3. Shortness of breath/cold sweat

What to do

  • Seek help immediately, as the symptoms of a heart attack should not be ignored.
  • Try to get the person to a nearby hospital if you can’t reach emergency medical help.
  • While waiting, make the person chew and swallow an aspirin. Aspirin helps keep the blood from clotting, and could reduce heart damage when taken during a heart attack. Find out about allergies to aspirin before administering.
  • Start hand-only CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) if the person is unconscious. If the person isn’t breathing or you don’t find a pulse, begin CPR to keep blood flowing after you call for emergency medical help.
  • Push hard and fast on the center of the person’s chest in a fairly rapid rhythm — about 100 to 120 compressions a minute.
  • If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is immediately available and the person is unconscious, follow the device instructions for using it.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

A person living with diabetes may experience extremely low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia. It could also result from starvation or prolonged fasting. Some signs that a person is experiencing low blood sugar include:

  1. Lightheadedness or dizziness
    2. Shakiness and nervousness
    3. Sweating, chills and clamminess
    4. Confusion
    5. Rapid/fast heartbeat

What to do

  • Immediately raise the blood sugar with high-sugar foods, preferably liquids like fruit juice, soda, or glucose.

Other First aid tips


  • Run cool (not cold) water over burned skin, or immerse in cool water until the pain subsides
  • Use cold compresses if running water isn’t available.
  • Cover with sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth to protect.
  • Do not apply butter, oil, lotions, or creams (especially if they contain fragrance).
  • Apply a petroleum-based ointment two to three times per day.
    To treat the pain, give over-the-counter pain relievers.

Cuts and scrapes

  • Wash your hands to avoid infecting the cut
  • Stop the bleeding. Minor cuts and scrapes usually stop bleeding on their own. If needed, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or cloth and elevate the wound until bleeding stops.
  • Clean the wound. Rinse the wound with water. Keeping the wound under running tap water will reduce the risk of infection. Wash around the wound with soap. But don’t get soap in the wound. And don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, which can be irritating.
  • Apply an antibiotic or petroleum jelly to keep the surface moist and help prevent scarring. If a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
  • Cover the wound. Apply a bandage, rolled gauze or gauze held in place with paper tape. Covering the wound keeps it clean. If the injury is just a minor scrape or scratch, leave it uncovered.
  • Change the dressing at least once a day or whenever the bandage becomes wet or dirty.
  • Get a tetanus shot if you or the injured person hasn’t had one in the past five years and the wound is deep or dirty.
  • Watch for signs of infection. See a doctor if you see signs of infection on the skin or near the wound, such as redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling.

Download a first aid app

There’s an app for everything. And you’ll probably have your phone with you in most emergencies. Just remember not to panic. Common first aid apps are: St John’s Ambulance First Aid and Army First Aid. A first aid app can be really helpful.

Final notes

We should all have first aid boxes or kits in our homes, offices, or public places. They help you know that you have a bit of control over any domestic injury or accident.

If you’re interested in becoming a certified first responder, you could also take a first aid course.

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