Five First Aid Facts and Myths

Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:52 PM

first aidThe kids are home from school for the summer, so accidents are bound to happen. Some injuries can be treated from home with the help of a first aid kit but some could require a visit to the emergency department. Make sure you are treating those bumps and bruises at home the correct way or know for sure you should be getting into the car and heading to the emergency department instead.

Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Medicine at NorthShore, dispels some common myths with the help of the facts: 

Myth: Put your head back when you have a nosebleed.
Fact: Don’t put your head back! Blood could flow down your throat and potentially into your stomach, which can cause nausea and vomiting; instead, tilt your head forward and pinch your nose right at your nostrils, not higher. Hold your nose for a full 10 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. If bleeding lasts much longer or if the bleeding was the result of an injury, head to the emergency department. 

Myth: Help soothe and heal a burn by applying butter.
Fact: Butter could make the burn worse and make treatment by a doctor more difficult. Putting butter on a burn means putting a non-sterile substance on an extremely sensitive area that is highly susceptible to infection. First-degree burns can be treated at home using cool, but not cold, water. Hold the burn under running water for approximately 10 minutes or until there is some relief of pain. Severe burns—second-degree and third-degree burns that exhibit blistering, swelling and intense pain—must be treated by a physician. 

Myth: Put cold red meat on a black eye.
Fact:  It’s the cold, not the steak, that’s important. Unless the steak is frozen and sealed completely, you don’t want that on any bruise—eye or otherwise—because it could introduce bacteria into the equation that could result in an infection. Grab a bag of frozen peas or a cold compress of some kind instead; it will help with swelling. 

Myth: Apply a hot compress to a sprained ankle.
Fact: Cold is the best way to combat swelling. Heat could actually worsen the inflammation of the injury. For ankle sprains, apply a cold compress for a full 10 minutes and then continue to apply cold as needed. For severe sprains, strains and fractures, seek immediate attention in the emergency department.  

Myth: A choking victim will require the Heimlich maneuver.
Fact: A choking victim might require the Heimlich maneuver for a complete blockage of the airway but you will have to keep your composure long enough to find out if that is the case. If the choking victim cannot speak and is turning blue, the Heimlich maneuver is required to allow air to push the obstruction out of the airway. Call 911 immediately and ask for help. If the victim can talk, it is a partial blockage, which can likely be resolved with coughing. 

Were you suprised by any of these first aid myths?

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