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First aid for home use

Click here to learn how to create your own home first-aid kitThe information below is intended to assist you in administering first aid. It is not an alternative to professional medical attention but rather a guide to what should be done until professional care can be given.

Poison Control: 800-382-9097
Community Health Network Information Line: 800-777-7775

Do you know what to do when an emergency occurs? Or is your injury so minor you can handle it at home? Below are some first aid tips for handling injuries and other health problems at home, or until help arrives.


Bites and stings*

Insect: Apply cold compress (ice wrapped in towel). A paste made from meat tenderizer and water may be applied to affected area to decrease stinging sensation. Scrape (don’t pull) stinger out of wound. If patient develops sting reaction, consult a physician.

Animal: Wash thoroughly with warm soap and water, dry and apply sterile dressing. If bite is more than superficial or if inflicted by a wild animal, consult a physician.

Consult a physician in any case of a human bite.

*If infection subsequently develops, consult a physician immediately. Signs of infection include increasing pain or redness, fever, drainage from wound, increasing swelling and inability to move a joint.

Burns and scalds

Minor injuries without blisters (redness only) should be immersed in cold water or covered with ice wrapped in towels. Burn sprays may be used. Blistering burns involving larger areas or burns resulting in large, painless areas should be seen by a physician or emergency department. Chemical burns should be washed with water immediately. If more than a small area is involved, consult a physician. Electrical burns require immediate professional attention. Before attempting to assist an electrocuted victim, be sure the source of electrical power has been disconnected.

Bruises

During the first one to two hours, apply cold compress. After 24 hours, apply hot wet towels. Bruised area will initially swell then subside. Bruises that cause severe pain should be evaluated by a physician or immediate care center.

Choking

Adults: If the victim is standing, stand behind him, put your arms around his waist and firmly push your fist upward into his abdomen at a point slightly above the navel. Do not squeeze his chest with your arms. Repeat the procedure if necessary. Or, lay the victim on his back on the floor and sit astride his hips. Press the heel of your hand into the victim’s abdomen at a point slightly above the navel and push with a quick upward thrust. Repeat if necessary.

Infants: Ages 0-1. Lay the infant face down on your lap and give five back blows, firmly but not hard, between the shoulders. Turn the infant face up and deliver five chest thrusts with two fingers about ½ inch below the nipple line in the middle of the chest.

Children: Ages 1-8. Administer upward abdominal thrusts with the heel of one hand between the rib cage and the navel. Repeat as necessary. If the victim is conscious, do not stick your finger in his mouth.

Convulsions

Patients who experience convulsions should be brought to the emergency department immediately. If the patient has suffered cardiac arrest, CPR should be given immediately and the local ambulance/rescue squad should be summoned. Do not force your fingers or any other objects into the patient’s mouth. If patient is not experiencing breathing difficulties, lay him on his side until he can bee seen by emergency medical personnel.

Cuts*

Small: Wash with soap and water, apply sterile dressing.

Large: Apply continuous pressure for five minutes to stop bleeding. If bleeding persists, contact your physician or ambulance/rescue squad. Do not use iodine or antiseptics without a physician’s order. Open wounds may require a tetanus shot; consult your physician or emergency department.

*If infection subsequently develops, consult a physician immediately. Signs of infection include increasing pain or redness, fever, drainage from wound, increasing swelling and inability to move a joint.

Eye injuries

Chemical: Flush irritant from eye with large amounts of water. Do not use drops or ointments. Call your physician or local ambulance/rescue squad immediately.

Objects in the eye: Gently remove object from eye using moist cotton swab. If not easily removed or if irritation continues, consult your physician or immediate care center.

Fainting

If a patient experiences brief loss of consciousness, lay him on his side and elevate his feet. Loosen clothing around his neck. Patient should regain consciousness within two minutes. If vomiting occurs, roll patient on his side. Patient should remain lying down until he feels better, then gradually helped to a sitting or standing position.

Fevers

Follow all physician’s orders with regard to antibiotics and other medications. Be sure to continue antibiotics until ALL doses are completed, even if symptoms improve or go away. Dress lightly and remove all tight-fitting clothes and coverings. Drink plenty of fluids. Take your temperature regularly while you are ill. Normal temperature is 98.6 orally, 99.6 rectally and 97.6 under the arm. Take aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen according to the directions on the bottle for discomfort or temperature above 101 F. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 18.

Children: A child’s temperature-regulating mechanism is not well developed, and thus the fever is often higher than one would expect with relatively minor infections. This does not necessarily indicate a serious infection. Follow the above instructions, and be sure to give plenty of fluids. The child may not feel hungry, but the fluids will prevent dehydration and make the child feel more comfortable. Appetite will improve when the child feels better. If the temperature is 101 F or higher and persists even after the above measure, you can sponge the child in lukewarm water. Sponge for 15-20 minutes then recheck the temperature. Avoid causing sustained shivers or chilling, which can raise the body temperature. Seek immediate medical treatment if your child begins to convulse, jerk or develops a rash. Follow up with your family physician to make sure your child’s illness is completely cured.

Fractures

Deformity of an injured area may indicate a fracture. A patient with a fractured neck or back should never be moved. Call your local ambulance/rescue squad. Any suspected fracture should be evaluated immediately by medical personnel. Ankle, wrist and hand injuries that are not deformed may be evaluated by your physician in his office or by emergency medical personnel.

Head injuries

If loss of consciousness follows a head injury, notify your local ambulance/rescue squad. Be alert for the following signs: amnesia of the event, continued unconsciousness, repeated vomiting, evidence of blood or fluid draining from the ears, headache or dizziness, inability to move limbs and unequal pupils. These symptoms require immediate professional attention. The patient with a head injury may be allowed to sleep but should be awakened every hour for the first four hours to be sure he or she is alert.

Nosebleeds

Have patient assume a sitting position with head bent forward. With clean cloth, pinch nose tightly closed for five minutes. If bleeding persists, repeat same procedure for 10 minutes. If patients shows no improvement, consult a physician or emergency department. When bleeding stops, apply ice wrapped in a towel for 30 minutes. Patient should refrain from blowing his nose.

Poisoning

Call Poison Control Center (800-382-9097) immediately. Most poisonings can be handled over the phone. Have the poisoning agent’s container handy for reference when talking to the center. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by a professional. Syrup of Ipecac, a nonprescription drug, will induce vomiting and should be kept in your home at all times.

Puncture wounds*

Clean wound with warm water and cover with dressing. Tetanus shots are required for all puncture wounds and may be given within the 48 hours of injury at any MedCheck. Consult your physician or emergency department.

*If infection subsequently develops, consult a physician immediately. Signs of infection include increasing pain or redness, fever, drainage from wound, increasing swelling and inability to move a joint.

Scrapes*

Gently clean with warm water. Do not apply dressing unless area will be irritated by clothing. Antibiotic ointments may be applied.

*If infection subsequently develops, consult a physician immediately. Signs of infection include increasing pain or redness, fever, drainage from wound, increasing swelling and inability to move a joint.

Slivers or splinters*

Clean with soap and water or peroxide. Remove object with tweezers. Larger, deeper wounds may require physician’s attention since a tetanus shot might be required.

*If infection subsequently develops, consult a physician immediately. Signs of infection include increasing pain or redness, fever, drainage from wound, increasing swelling and inability to move a joint.

Sprains*

Apply cold compresses to sprained area for first 24 hours or until swelling stops. Elevate injured area to minimize further swelling. If fracture is suspected, consult a physician.

*If infection subsequently develops, consult a physician immediately. Signs of infection include increasing pain or redness, fever, drainage from wound, increasing swelling and inability to move a joint.

Unconsciousness

If patient is unconscious for whatever reason and for whatever length of time, he should be evaluated by emergency medical personnel as soon as possible, even if he is subsequently alert. If patient does not rapidly regain consciousness or if he has no pulse, contact your local ambulance/rescue squad immediately. Until professional assistance can be obtained, lay patient on his side with feet elevated slightly.

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