How should you apply First Aid at Home?
First aid is an undervalued skill that many may consider unnecessary, especially today when emergency services are right around the corner. However, first aid is more than merely putting a plaster on a cut or a scraped knee, and eight out of 10 people do not know basic first aid procedures that could save a loved one’s life.
First aid is a skill that is necessary for every household, especially where there are vulnerable persons like children, the elderly, or someone who has a medical condition.
Not only does first aid provide people with a basic skill on how to manage and treat minor wounds, stabilise an injured person until medical services arrive, but it helps people take control of a situation and it prepares them to handle an emergency more effectively.
Top Reasons why you must keep a first aid kit in your home
Treating injuries quickly
When people keep a first aid box at home, they can quickly and efficiently handle medical emergencies quickly.
When there is an emergency, a delay could lead to further damage, or it could deter overall recovery and a first aid box at home plus a trained person to provide first aid at home can help to treat injuries quickly.
Stop Blood loss
Cuts are a risk in all parts of the home from the kitchen, office, workshop, and so on. They happen extremely quickly, and they can be severe. When there is a first aid box at home, people can quickly pack the wound and apply gauze to stop the bleeding.
Without the proper materials, stopping blood loss can be difficult and it could lead to life-threatening situations if not handled correctly.
In the case that there is an open wound, the first aid box should contain an antibiotic or disinfectant cream that can be applied to prevent infection.
Relieve the pain of a burn
Burns or scald injuries occur, and first aid treatment must be applied to the affected area as soon as possible. The provision of immediate first aid not only relieves the pain but can prevent further damage.
Prevent discomfort from bug bites and skin irritation
Wounds and insect bites can be uncomfortable but when they are handled immediately and effectively with the right ointment, the irritation can dissipate faster.
Helping children, friends, or family
One essential consideration is that any household should have a first aid kit and a person trained to use it because it can save a life, alleviate pain, and discomfort, and provide peace of mind.
Reduced risk of complications
One of the main purposes of first aid is to reduce further injury while waiting for medical services. When there is a trained first aider in the home with a fully-stocked first aid kit, they can manage the situation to reduce the risks of complications.
It keeps everything you need in one place
Most households have extensive medicine cabinets and when an emergency arises, it can be tedious to try and find the right thing to treat an injury or condition quickly. A first aid kit keeps everything in a central place, allowing the first aider to respond promptly.
Applying basic first aid at home
Cuts and scrapes
The process to follow with cuts and scrapes entail the following:
- Wash your hands with soap and water so that the wound is not contaminated.
- Stop the bleeding by applying pressure on the wound with a clean cloth or a gauze pad.
- Clean the wound once the bleeding is stopped by running it under cool water or using saline wash. Prevent soap from entering the wound and prevent using iodine, hydrogen peroxide, or any other abrasive chemicals that could irritate the cut and cause more discomfort or pain.
- Remove any debris from the wound using tweezers that have been cleaned using an alcohol solution.
- If necessary, cover the wound with plaster and change it frequently. Once a solid scab has formed, the bandage must be removed.
While most cuts and scrapes can be treated at home, there are times when medical attention is needed, such cases include:
- If the cut is deep, long, or it has jagged edges
- If the cut originated from an animal, human bite, or a dirty, rusty object.
- If bleeding cannot be stopped using direct pressure
- If dirt and debris cannot be removed
- If the cut is near a joint or on a face
- If the skin around the cut starts getting red and swollen, with red streaks forming in the skin
- If the person gets a fever
- The head of the affected person must lean forward to prevent blood from running down the throat
- Gently press the nostrils together to stop the bleeding
- Hold this position for at least five minutes and wait for the bleeding to stop
- Call a doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if the bleeding continues after fifteen minutes, the bleeding is fast and there is a significant amount of blood, if the blood is from an injury sustained to the face, or if the person starts feeling weak.
- The skin around the splinter must be cleaned
- A pair of tweezers must be cleaned using an alcohol swap
- Grab the end of the splinter firmly with the tweezer (use a magnifying glass if needed and perform the procedure under adequate light)
- Pull the splinter out at the same angle that it entered the skin, if possible, to prevent debris from remaining behind
- Clean the skin with soap and water
- If the splinter is isolated underneath the skin, a disinfected needle can be used to scrape the skin away above the splinter until the top of the splinter surfaces, once it does the end can be grabbed with the tweezers and it can be pulled out.
Insect Stings and Animal Bites
Minor animal bites and scratches:
- If someone sustains a surface wound from an animal scratch or bite and does not require medical attention, the bleeding can be stopped using gauze or a cloth towel, the wound can be cleaned, and the wound can be dressed.
- Remove the stinger from the wound by scraping it using the dull edge of a knife and wash the wound using soap and water.
- Hold an ice pack over the wound to reduce swelling
- Spread an antiseptic or topical anaesthetic lotion over the area to reduce pain
- To prevent itching, use an antihistamine lotion
- Apply firm pressure to the bite for at least ten seconds
- Use a hydrocortisone cream four times a day to prevent itching
- Take an antihistamine if the bite is extremely itchy
- Wash the area with soap and water and hold an ice pack over the area to alleviate pain and reduce swelling
- Always make sure that you familiarize yourself and your family with the types of spiders in your area. Teach children how to identify spiders to ensure that appropriate medical attention can be sought if bites occur.
- Know the symptoms of poisonous spider bites including red or purple colour around the bite, pain, swelling, muscle pain, fever, chills, etc.
How to spot an allergic reaction from an insect sting or bite:
- Stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhoea
- Swelling of the tongue
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
The different types of burns are:
- First-degree burns are minor, and the affected area will turn red and swell, but a blister will not form.
- Second-degree burns are burns that form blisters with red, painful skin
- Third-degree burns can cause the skin to look white and charred. These burns often do not hurt because there can be nerve damage
When to seek medical attention:
- If anyone sustains a third-degree burn
- If the area is larger than 5cm
- If the burn is sustained to the hands, feet, face, or a moving joint
- If pain is severe
- If the burn was sustained from exposure to chemicals or electricity
- If there is fluid oozing from the area
Minor burns can be treated by:
- Placing the affected area under cool water for a few minutes to help bring down the swelling
- Applying an antibiotic ointment, burn shield, or another specified ointment to help soothe the area
- Loosely wrap a bandage around the burn
Sprains and Strains
These are both extremely common injuries at home, and they can be identified as follows:
- Sprains occur when a ligament is stretched or torn. Ligaments are the tissue that connects bones and supports joints. Sprains typically occur in the wrist, knee, shoulder, or ankle and they can cause pain, swelling, and bruising depending on the severity.
- A strain is an injury sustained to a muscle or tendon, which is the thick tissue that attaches the muscles to the bones. Strains often occur in the back or hamstring muscles and these injuries can cause pain, weakness, swelling, and cramps.
Sprains and strains that are mild can be treated by:
- Resting the affected limb
- Holding an ice pack over the area at frequent intervals during the day
- Wrapping an elastic bandage or splint around the area or by using sports tape to immobilise the area
Choking and obstructed airways
There are three different manoeuvres namely:
- Strong back slaps to dislodge the item
- Chest compressions can be used next if the item is not dislodged. For every five back slaps, five chest compressions must be done
- Heimlich manoeuvre where abdominal thrusts are given when standing behind the person. However, this should never be used on a child younger than ten years as it can result in internal injuries.
What should be in a home first aid kit / what are 10 items in a first aid kit at home?
A first aid kit for parents must be well-stocked, and it must be kept in a conspicuous place where it can be accessed easily. Households can also keep more than one first aid kit to ensure that there is one readily available, especially in areas where injuries are more likely to occur such as the kitchen, garage, workshop, and so on.
Every vehicle must have a first aid kit for parents that can treat the number of occupants in the vehicle. Pharmacies stock different first aid boxes for home use as well as travel purposes, stocked with basic items that can treat minor wounds and injuries.
Some of the recommended first aid items to keep at home include:
- A comprehensive and updated manual on how to use the items
- An updated list of emergency numbers
- sterile gauze pads of different sizes
- Adhesive tape
- Adhesive bandages (band-aids) in several sizes
- Elastic bandage
- A splint
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic solution
- Burn gel
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Sharp scissors
- Safety pins
- Disposable instant cold packs
- Calamine lotion
- Alcohol wipes or ethyl alcohol
- Tooth preservation kit
- Plastic non-latex gloves (at least 2 pairs)
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Mouthpiece for giving CPR
First Aid Kit Inspection
First aid kits must be inspected frequently to ensure that the items have not expired and to ensure that the first aid box at home is stocked. The first aid kit for parents must be organised to ensure that the contents of the kit are safe and ready to use in case of an emergency.
- Check for any damaged, soiled, or partially used products. As a best practice, it is recommended that all items must be single-use to prevent contamination. However, in the case of sprays and ointments, this is not possible.
- Items such as medicine, ointments, and sprays will have a shelf life. The expiry date must be marked on the container or an individual package. If the first aid kit has more than one type of the same product, always use older products before newer products.
- Always check the first aid box at home according to the inventory, pay attention to items that have been used so that they can be replenished before it is finished.
- Arrange the first aid box at home so that items are easily accessible.
What Parents should know when it comes to applying first aid at home
Safety is a crucial issue in any home where there are vulnerable individuals such as children. All parents must know basic first aid to ensure that they can treat small wounds and injuries in addition to handling an emergency.
Prevention is always better than cure and parents must take the necessary steps to ensure that they protect their family, much like any employer in professional workplaces must safeguard their employees.
Various threats exist in the household and not all are obvious, especially poisoning, drowning, and choking. To prevent accidental poisoning, any substance or item that can be ingested accidentally must be stored and locked away.
To prevent fires and burns, matches and lighters must be kept out of reach of children. Fire detection is altogether one of the best devices to ensure that early detection can prevent significant damage or loss.
Parents must ensure that they have an emergency procedure at home and that children are familiarized and taught from a young age, preparing them for an array of emergencies. An emergency contact list must be kept in conspicuous places such as the fridge, in the hallway between bedrooms, and so on.
Children must be taught how to call for help if there is an emergency. In addition, children should be taught their full names, the full names of their parents, their physical address, telephone number, and any medical conditions or allergies that they may have.
Some common first aid practices that all parents must know includes:
- Choking and the procedure to follow if it occurs and how to provide CPR to a child
- Convulsions and seizures and how to secure the child and prevent any injury from such an occurrence.
- Head injuries
- Burns and how they should be treated
- Insect or animal bites
Benefits of First Aid for Parents
It can save a child’s life
In first aid training, individuals will learn life-saving procedures such as CPR, emergency management, and other skills. Children are small and reacting to an injury or medical condition quickly can be the difference between life and death.
In addition to this, providing CPR to a child is different from an adult and parents must know how to deal with emergencies.
Children are extremely active and more likely to injure themselves with breaks, sprains, strains, bumps, fractures, and breaks. Parents who have first aid training will gain essential skills in managing wounds, allowing them to identify different practices needed to support the healing process.
Prevention of hazards and risks
Parents who attend first aid training will become more aware of the obvious and hidden hazards and risks in the home. This will allow them to evaluate their safety at home and implement additional measures to prevent injuries.
It keeps the family safe
Parents who have the necessary first aid training can protect their families when they know how to react in an emergency, what to do, who to call, and where to go. Parents can pass their emergency skills onto their children and ensure that their kids know how to react in an emergency from a young age.
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