With the internet at our fingertips, most non-medically trained people jump on their phones to search what to do in case of an emergency. Whether you are helping someone with a bee sting or trying to stop a nosebleed, it is important to dispel the first aid myths that have been circulating for years. When you look for resources for medical information and advice be sure you are looking to credible sources. Be sure you are helping those in need instead of hindering their recovery. Here are 10 common first aid misconceptions to watch out for when trying to help someone in need.
Urinate on jellyfish stings to relieve pain and speed recovery
Rinse the jellyfish bite with sea water. Do not rub the area, but apply ice. Apply vinegar. Remove tentacles with tweezers. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock and transport to medical care.
A shot of alcohol can warm a hypothermic patient
While alcohol does give you a sense of warmth, but dilates blood vessels which can increase heat loss. This can also cause changes in judgement and coordination. Instead, remove wet clothes and provide insulation. Warm the patient in a dry place. Add layers. Give warm, sweet fluids if the patient is responsive. Don’t let the patient sit, stand, or walk until they are warmed.
Rub frost bit vigorously
Frozen body parts require rapid rewarming in controlled environments. Remove anything that constricts the extremity like rings or bracelets. Separate fingers and toes with loose gauze. Do not pop any blisters. Elevate the area, insulate, and transport to advanced medical care.
Apply butter to treat a burn
Covering a burn with butter causes skin to retain heat and makes it difficult for medical staff clean the burn. Instead of applying anything with grease, remove the source of the heat. Cool the area with sterile, cool water or saline. Cover with a cool wet dressing, but don’t leave it on for more than 10 minutes. Cover with a clean, sterile dressing. If you are trained in giving oxygen, administer oxygen to protect patient from heat loss. Transport to medical care.
Physically restrain a person having a seizure
Keep fingers out of a patient’s mouth. Protect them from injury by clearing a space and removing any dangerous objects that could cause injury. Time the seizure and call for medical attention
Snake bites can be treated by sucking out venom and applying a tourniquet
Keep the patient calm. Clean and dress the wound with sterile gauze. Elevate the limb above the heart. Minimize the patient from doing any type of activity. Treat for shock. Take frequent vital signs. Notify paramedics immediately.
Soak sprains in hot water
Soaking a sprain in hot water will increase swelling. Rest the sprain, apply ice, apply compression, and elevate.
Treat nosebleeds by tilting the head back or placing the head between the knees
Doing this will caused someone suffering from a nose bleed to swallow blood. Instead, have the person sit with their head tilted forward. Pinch the nostrils for 15 minutes. Don’t release the pressure too soon. Hold the nose tight for the entire 15 minutes without checking to see if the bleeding has stopped.
Treat hyperventilating by breathing into a paper bag
If someone is hyperventilating, do not have them breathe in a paper bag. Breathing in a bag can increase carbon monoxide inhalation. This can lead to serious illness, high blood sugar levels, or panic attacks. Give the patient oxygen if you are trained in doing so, and transport to emergency care.
Credit cards vs. tweezers for bee stings
Although it’s been a topic of debate, it doesn’t matter whether you scrape the skin with the edge of a credit card or pull it out with a tweezers. Getting the stinger out quickly is the most important thing. Grasp below the sac of the stinger and don’t compress it. Watch for a severe reaction and transport to medical care.