First aid can be a lifesaving technique when confronted with an injury or potential emergency. Knowing the correct first aid treatment for an injury or an illness can make a difference before professional help is ready to take over. In the rush of wanting to provide help, there are times where we turn to home remedies that we learned as a child or make a decision based on a common myth. Unfortunately, there are first aid techniques still circulating that could do more harm than good.
Number of widespread and dangerous first aid mistakes that many people have made from their desire to help others. First aid mistakes can increase the risk of infection or worsen an injury, and in some cases, could be potentially life-threatening.
From what not do in case of a nosebleed to old wives’ tale that makes jellyfish sting worse, here are 9 first aid techniques that turn out to be harmful and not doctor recommended.
1: Tilting Your Head Back or Forward to Stop a Nosebleed
Tilting your head back during a nosebleed is an outdated move and a big NO according to doctors. While it may reduce the amount of blood that comes out of your nose, tilting your head makes the blood run down the back of your throat and can make you vomit up blood.
If you got a nosebleed, what you can do is stay calm, sit up straight, and keep your head in a neutral position. Proceed with pinching your nostrils together by gently pressing on each side of your nose for at least five minutes.
2: Use of Butter/Toothpaste/Ice on a Burn
When dealing with major burns, the priority is to cool the burn as soon as possible. Butter, toothpaste, or ice should not be used to cool a burn, especially the major ones. This age-old advice is plain bad old advice and does not provide adequate cooling.
Instead, cool the burn under running water for 20 minutes, apply a sterile bandage or place ice or anything cold on top of the burnt area. Rapid cooling is essential in stopping the burning process and improves the chances of recovery.
3: Immediate Application of Tourniquets
In case of bleeding, applying a tourniquet over the wound is not the first on your checklist. Medical experts said that the use of tourniquets cannot stop severe bleeding cases (i.e. arterial bleeding, when the blood spurts upwards), and can even cause permanent lesions in the tissues when squeezing over the wound.
The first thing to do is to stop the bleeding. A tourniquet should be applied ONLY in case of an emergency. Instead of using this, you can directly apply gauze swabs or apply a compressive bandage using sterile wipes. A good first aid kit has the following contents needed in a bleeding emergency.
4: Performing Same CPR Actions for People of Different Ages
In the case of a cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) makes all the difference between life and death. However, it is important to note that the depth of compressions may vary depending on the age range. Deep compressions applied to infants and children may cause harm and lifelong disability.
When performing Child CPR, use only one hand instead of the two you’d use with an adult. While Infant CPR only uses two fingers and not the whole hand. Know more about proper CPR application by enrolling in a first aid course.
5: Sucking a Snakebite Venom
The venom from the snake bite is shot into the victim’s bloodstream towards the heard and across the body. Sucking out venom is an old cowboy trick that does not work and may even harm the affected area directly.
It is recommended not to touch the wound and seek immediate medical assistance when bitten by a snake, venomous or not.
6: Peeing on a Jellyfish Sting
Please do not pee on jellyfish stings, You’ve probably heard somewhere that peeing or urinating on a jellyfish sting helps in easing the pain, but it does not. Urine is not an effective sting ointment and can only make things worse.
To treat a jellyfish sting, carefully pluck visible tentacles with tweezers and soak the affected skin area with hot water. The use of calamine lotion is also recommended for further treatment.
7: Breathing Into a Paper Bag for Hyperventilation
Treating hyperventilation by breathing into a brown paper bag is a traditional practice and does not recommend by doctors nowadays. The idea of using a paper bag is it help the victim’s body restore its balance. However, studies have shown that this practice is not 100% working and can cause more harm.
When hyperventilating, it is better to try breathing through pursed lips and if it doesn’t work – call an ambulance.
8: Moving a seriously injured person
Do NOT move a seriously injured body, especially when there is suspicion of spinal cord injury or vertebral spine lesions. You may be tempted to help and try to get the person moving to make sure they are okay but do not do it. Any kind of movement under serious injuries may result in permanent neurological damage or paralysis.
The best thing to do in a potential spinal injury is to call 000 (Australian Emergency Services Number) and get the victim to the nearest hospital.
9: Put your fingers down the throat to stop choking
In an event of choking, it can be tempting to try and reaches down other’s throat to retrieve whatever causing the airway obstruction. However, in some cases, the object lodges deeper, and doing that may irritate the airway, making the problem worse.
Instead, use the first-aid technique for choking called “Heimlich Maneuver”. If the person can respond, do not proceed with the technique but if not, proceed with doing the basics of Heimlich Maneuver. Stand behind the choking person, wrap your arm around their waist, and thrust upwards and inwards. Keep going until the object dislodges or emergency services arrive.
10: Trying to Remove Debris from an Injured Eye
Do not attempt to remove the debris by yourself as it can irritate the wound and may lead to permanent damage. The only exception to this is in case of chemicals get in the eyes, where you can use water to flush out remaining chemicals for 15 minutes.
Protect your eye/s by securing a paper cup and adhesive tape over the affected area. Seek care immediately.
11: Putting Heat on a Sprain/Fracture
The application of heat will only worsen the inflammation. Save the heat for back spasms and do not apply it to a suspected sprain or fracture. The first aid rule for sprains is to always apply cold initially and seek professional help.
Rather than committing these mistakes that may cause harm, always call a doctor or emergency services in case of an emergency. Moreover, we recommend taking a first aid course so you can be prepared and ready to give life-saving assistance.