Monday, December 6, 2010

First Aid

Though you can give basic first aid and CPR without tools, a few supplies can make it safer, easier, and more effective. It’s a good idea to assemble a simple first aid kit for your home, car, boat, workplace, or anywhere else you spend lots of time. You can find first aid supplies at pharmacies and medical supply stores.

• Sterile gauze bandages: For covering cuts and wounds. They come in various sizes and forms. You should have 2"× 2" pads, 4"× 4" pads, a large absorbent pad, as well as roller-type gauze.

• Adhesive tape: To hold gauze bandages or splints in place. Usually sold in rolls, like Scotch tape.

• Adhesive bandages: To cover cuts or wounds without the need for adhesive tape. You
should have large and small bandages, and they should be sterile if possible. Latex-free bandages are best, since some people are allergic to latex.

• Elastic bandages: To bind and immobilize fractures and sprains temporarily, or to
hold splints in place.

• Bandage scissors: To cut bandages to the appropriate size and to snip adhesive tape.

• Instant cold pack: To provide an immediate source of cold without the need for refrigeration.

• Waterless hand wash or moist towelettes: To sanitize hands and skin after providing first aid.

Protecting Yourself

Blood, or body fluids contaminated with blood, may carry infectious diseases such as hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). First aid kits should contain medical exam gloves, CPR mouth shields, and/or other equipment to limit this risk.

• Medical exam gloves: To protect your hands and skin from contact with blood and bodily fluids. Latex-free gloves are best, but any rubber gloves are better than nothing at all.

• Mouth shield: To let you perform CPR without any actual mouth-to-mouth contact.

What to Do During an Emergency

No two emergencies are exactly the same. But there is a general plan of response that you should follow in every emergency situation.

1. Survey the Scene

You can’t help a victim if you get hurt yourself. Before providing first aid, always check the scene for dangers such as:

• Fire
• Downed power lines
• Hazardous chemicals
• Unsafe structures
• Traffic

Never attempt to enter a dangerous scene. Instead, call your EMERGENCY NUMBERS and explain the situation.

2. Decide Whether to Move the Victim. In the vast majority of emergencies, you should not move the victim. Movement can worsen injuries the victim may already have sustained. However, there are a few scenarios in which you may need to move a victim:

• If the victim is in immediate physical danger
• If the victim’s injury or illness is life-threatening and the victim is positioned in a way that prevents you from providing first aid

How to Move a Victim

If you do have to move a victim, follow these guidelines:

• Keep the spine and neck straight: Always keep the neck and spine in a straight line. Never move a victim sideways—only in the direction of the head or feet.

• Drag by the collar: If possible, try to pull the victim by the collar, using your forearms to support the head.

• Pull from shoulders or feet: If you can’t move the victim using only his clothes, pull the body from both feet or both shoulders.

The Recovery Position

The recovery position is a body position that keeps the victim’s airway unobstructed. It should be used when a person is injured or ill but breathing normally. It should not be used if breathing is unstable or if you suspect a spinal injury.

1. Straighten the victim’s legs and place the arm closest to you at a right angle to the body. Remove any bulky items from the victim’s pockets.

2. With one hand, lift the arm farthest from you and bring it across the victim’s chest. Hold the arm so the back of the victim’s hand is against the cheek closest to you. With your other hand, lift the knee farthest from you so that the victim’s far foot rests flat against the ground.

3. Roll the victim gently toward you, without ever allowing the victim’s hand to lose contact with his cheek. The hip and knee of the victim’s top leg should both be bent at right angles. Tilt the head back slightly to keep the airway open.

4. Assess the Victim

Assessing an ill or injured person will give you the information you need to begin providing first aid.

Assessing Airway and Breathing

1. Assess consciousness: Approach the victim and ask, “Are you okay?” “ Ok ka ba?

A. If the victim is able to talk or cough: This means he has an open airway and is breathing. Skip to “Assessing Illness or Injury” below.

B. If the victim does not speak: Check for responsiveness by tapping or gently shaking his arm. If the victim responds by talking or coughing, skip to “Assessing Illness or Injury” below.

2. If the victim still doesn’t respond: Call your EMERGENCY NUMBERS

A. If someone else is with you: Have that person call for help while you stay with the victim.

B. If you’re alone and the victim is an adult: Call for help yourself and then continue your assessment.

C. If you’re alone and the victim is a child or infant: Deliver five cycles of CPR before calling your EMERGENCY NUMBERS.

3. Try to open the airway: A foreign object or the victim’s tongue may be obstructing the airway. With the victim on his back, open the airway by tilting the head back with one hand while tilting the chin upward with the other.

4. Take ten seconds—and no longer—to check for normal breathing: Watch to see whether the victim’s chest is rising. Put your ear close to the victim’s mouth and nose and listen and feel with your cheek for breathing. Don’t mistake gasping for breathing.

A. If the victim is breathing: Put him in the recovery position and wait for medical help.

B. If there’s no sign of breathing: Perform CPR.

Assessing Illness or Injury

If the victim is breathing, assess for illness or injury. Question the victim, question other people at the scene, and observe the victim. If you observe (or the victim reports) any of the signs listed below, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS:

• Sudden dizziness or fainting
• Decreased level of responsiveness
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Sudden, severe vomiting
• Weakness in or loss of use of an extremity
• Change in vision
• Chest or abdominal pain or pressure
• Sudden or severe pain in any body part

You should also palpate (feel) the victim’s body from head to toe to check for:

• Severe bleeding
• Unusual skin color or temperature
• Abnormal breathing
• Deformities, such as extremities in abnormal positions
• Verbal complaint of pain when a body part is touched
• Swelling or tenderness in any area
• Cuts or scrapes

4. Calling for Help

The most important aspect of first aid is knowing when and how to summon medical assistance. You should always call for help when:

• The victim is unconscious or unresponsive
• You believe that the victim’s condition is, or could become, life threatening
• There has been a car accident, fire, or explosion
• There are downed electrical wires or a hazardous substance is present

If you believe that the condition is or may be life threatening, or if you are uncertain what to do, you should always call for help even if the victim refuses first aid.

How to Summon Help

Calling EMERGENCY NUMBERS is the most common way to access the immediate response , so make sure you know the specific numbers to call for emergency help from home, work, and anywhere else you spend considerable time. When you call your local emergency number, be ready to share the following information:

Your name, location, and the telephone

• number from which you’re calling
• Type of emergency (car accident, animal bite, heart attack, etc.)
• Number of persons injured
• Condition of victims and treatment received so far.

Don’t hang up until the emergency response operator tells you to do so. You may need to answer further questions or follow instructions vital to the victim’s survival.


CPR, short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a technique that keeps blood and oxygen flowing through the body of a person who isn’t breathing and whose heart has stopped. Immediate CPR applied until medical help arrives doubles a victim’s chances of survival.

Rescue Breathing

If the victim is not breathing, it’s crucial to get air into his body by giving rescue breaths. Rescue breaths can be given through a face shield or mask, or directly mouth-to-mouth.

The steps for delivering rescue breaths are:

1. Head tilt: Use a head tilt to make sure the victim’s airway is open.

2. Form a seal: If using a face shield or mask, place it over the victim’s face, holding the edges of the shield snugly against the face with the fingers of both hands to make a tight seal. If providing direct mouth-to mouth, place your mouth over the victim’s mouth to make a seal. Pinch closed the nose, using the hand that’s tilting the victim’s head back.

3. Give two rescue breaths: Take a normal breath, then give a one-second-long rescue breath. Repeat. Watch for the victim’s chest to rise with each rescue breath.

4. If the chest does not rise: The breath may not be getting through the airway. Re-tilt the head and give two more rescue breaths. If the breaths still aren’t going in, give care for choking.

5. If the victim begins breathing: Put him in the recovery position and wait for medical help.

6. If the victim does not begin breathing: Begin chest compressions Rescue Breaths on Infants Rescue breathing for infants is identical to that for adults, except that you should form a seal over both nose and mouth with your mouth.

Chest Compressions

Chest compressions circulate blood through the victim’s body until the heart begins to beat on its own. Chest compressions for adults and children are performed differently from those for infants.

Chest Compressions for Adults and Children

1. Place the heel of one hand in the center of the victim’s chest, on the sternum (breastbone). Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand. Interlock your fingers and lift them up, but keep the heel of the hand against the victim’s chest. Make sure the heel of your hand is on the middle of the victim’s sternum, not on the bottom end, which is fragile and may break off.

2. With your body directly over the victim and elbows straight, push down firmly. Compress the chest about 1 1/2 to 2". Allow the chest to return to the normal position between compressions but always keep your hands in contact with the victim’s chest.

Give compressions at a rate of about 100 per minute — about one and a half compressions per second.

Chest Compressions for Infants

To give chest compressions to an infant, place your middle and index fingers slightly below the nipple line at the center of the chest. Push the chest in about 1/2–3/4".

Cycles of CPR

After the two initial rescue breaths, CPR should be given in cycles—30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths. Two full cycles of CPR would be:

• First cycle: 30 compressions, 2 breaths
• Second cycle: 30 compressions, 2 breaths

Continue giving cycles of breathing and compression until the victim has started to breathe on his own or until medical help has arrived. If the victim starts breathing at any time, put him in the recovery position and wait for medical help.

Respiratory Problems

Respiratory problems can be caused by many different injuries and illnesses. The most common are choking, asthma, and hyperventilation.


Choking is the partial or total obstruction of the airway by a piece of food or other object. First aid for a choking adult is different from first aid for a choking infant.

First Aid for a Choking Adult

Ask the victim, “Are you choking?”

If the victim can talk or cough, the airway is not completely blocked. Encourage the victim to try to cough out the object.

If the victim can’t talk or cough, then the airway is blocked. Ask the victim’s permission to administer the Heimlich maneuver.

1. Stand behind the victim. Wrap your arms around the victim’s abdomen (or chest, if the victim is heavyset or pregnant).

2. Make a fist and place it between the victim’s sternum and navel, with the thumb side facing the victim.

3. With your other hand, grasp the hand that’s formed into a fist. Thrust your hands quickly inward and upward to expel the object.

If the victim loses consciousness, check his airway and breathing. If necessary, begin CPR.

First Aid for a Choking Infant

1. Lay infant face down on your forearm, with your hand beneath the chest and fingers supporting the head.

2. Give 3 to 5 quick, sharp blows with the heel of your hand to the baby’s back, between the shoulder blades.

3. If the object is not expelled, turn the infant face up on your other forearm, keeping the infant’s head supported.

4. Give 3–5 chest thrusts with two fingers placed in the center of the chest, a finger width below the nipple line.

5. Alternate back blows and chest thrusts until the object is expelled. If the infant loses consciousness, check his airway and breathing. If needed, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS and begin CPR.

Asthma Attacks

Asthma is a condition in which the airways in the lungs narrow, making it difficult to breathe. Dust, smoke, and exercise are common triggers for asthma attacks, though attacks may also occur without an obvious trigger.

Signs of an Asthma Attack

• Wheezing
• Coughing
• Chest tightness

1. Assist the victim into a comfortable position.

2. Ask the victim to try to breathe slowly and deeply.

3. Most people with asthma have blue-capped reliever inhalers that help lessen attacks. If the victim has an inhaler, help him find and use it.

Most asthma attacks ease after three or four minutes. If the attack continues past five minutes or the inhaler seems to have no effect, call your EMERGENCY NUMBERS . If the victim becomes unconscious, check his airway and breathing. If necessary, begin CPR.


Hyperventilation is overly fast and deep breathing, often brought about by anxiety or panic.

Signs of Hyperventilation

• Fast or deep breathing
• Lightheadedness
• Tingling in the hands

1. Reassure the victim.

2. Lead the victim to a quiet place, if possible.

3. Ask the victim to concentrate on breathing with his abdominal muscles and to breathe in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth. Breathe along with the victim to help slow his breathing down.

Do not have the victim breathe into a paper bag.

Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic shock is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. Common triggers may include insect stings, medications, and certain foods, such as shellfish or peanuts. If you suspect anaphylactic shock, call your EMERGENCY NUMBERS immediately.

Assist the victim into the position of greatest comfort and try to determine what caused the allergic reaction. If the victim loses consciousness, monitor his airway and breathing and be ready to perform CPR.

Signs of Anaphylactic Shock

• Itching skin, eyes, or nose
• Congestion and sneezing
• Hives (red skin rash)
• Difficulty breathing
• Swollen face and tongue


Some people who know they have severe allergies carry an auto-injector, a device that injects a substance called epinephrine, which relieves allergic reactions.

If the victim has an auto-injector, you may have to help him use it. The injection is given in the side of the thigh. Follow the instructions on the wrapper.


Bleeding occurs when blood vessels, which circulate blood throughout the body, are ruptured in an injury. If the injury breaks the skin, external bleeding occurs. If the skin isn’t broken, internal bleeding occurs, in which blood from broken blood vessels pools within the body. Both types of bleeding can result in shock. When providing first aid for a bleeding person, wear gloves if possible.

External Bleeding

Most external bleeding can be stopped by applying direct pressure to the wound.

1. Apply direct pressure to the wound using your fingersor palm. If available, use a sterile gauze dressing folded in half or fourths. If you don’t have a clean dressing, a handkerchief, scarf, T-shirt, or other clean cloth will do.

2. Unless you believe there has been a fracture, lift the injured limb above the level of the heart to limit blood loss .

3. If blood soaks through the dressing, put another dressing on top of the first and apply increased pressure.

4. If the bleeding slows, clean the wound and surrounding area with running water or alcohol-free wipes. Pat dry and cover with gauze or an adhesive bandage.

5. If the bleeding does not slow, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS . Continue to apply pressure to the wound until medical help arrives.

6. If the victim has lost a lot of blood and is dizzy or confused, or if he has clammy skin and is breathing rapidly, treat him for shock.


1. Place the victim in a seated position with his head tilted slightly forward and ask him to breathe through his mouth. This will prevent blood from obstructing the airway or running down the back of the throat.

2. Using a gloved hand, pinch the nostrils together. If the victim is able to do this himself, allow him to do so.

3. Check to see whether the bleeding has stopped after ten minutes. If not, continue pinching for ten minutes, and then, if necessary, ten minutes more.

4. If the bleeding stops, advise the victim to rest for a few hours and to avoid blowing his nose, spitting, coughing, or sniffing during this time.

5. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, transport the victim to a medical center.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding can be minor (mild bruises) or severe (bleeding organs). If you believe that the internal bleeding is severe, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS immediately. If you suspect that the internal bleeding is due to a bone injury, treat the bone injury and summon medical assistance.

Signs of Internal Bleeding

• Bruising
• Pain
• Swollen or tender area


Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person’s circulatory system is unable to supply the body with oxygen. The most common cause of shock is blood loss, though it can also be caused by a heart attack, burns, or fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea.

Heat and Cold Ailments

Extremely hot or cold temperatures can cause medical problems, especially if the victim is exposed to such condition for a long period of time. Temperature-related injuries often have a gradual onset but then progress rapidly to an emergency-level situation.

Heat-Related Ailments


Sunburn is caused by excessive exposure to sunlight or to the rays from a sunlamp in a tanning salon. Certain medicines make people more susceptible to sunburn. If you’re on medication, check whether it has any side effects related to sun exposure.

Signs of Sunburn

• Red skin
• Pain
• Blistering

1. Move the sunburned person into the shade or indoors. Provide cool water to drink.

2. Sponge the affected skin with cold water or soak the affected areas in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. If no blistering develops, soothe the skin with calamine lotion. If blistering develops, get medical assistance.

Signs of Shock

• Confusion or dizziness
• Change in responsiveness
• Cool, clammy, pale skin
• Nausea, vomiting, or thirst

Symptoms of shock may appear suddenly or slowly, which makes it difficult to spot. Any time a victim has severe fluid loss, burns, or heart trouble, look out for signs of shock.

1. If a victim appears to be in shock, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS.

2. Search for and treat the cause of the shock, if you are not already aware of it.

3. Help the victim to lie on his back.

4. Elevate the legs about 12 inches from the floor. Be very careful doing this if there are possible fractures.

5. Cover the victim with a coat or blanket to help maintain body temperature. Loosen any tight clothing that might restrict blood flow.

6. If the victim vomits, make sure he can still breathe and put him in the recovery position.

7. If the victim becomes unconscious, check for airway and breathing. If there is no breathing, begin CPR.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion results when a person loses too much water and salt as a result of excessive sweating.

It can be caused by overexertion, hot weather, or illness.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

• Sweating, clammy skin
• Headache
• Dizziness and confusion
• Nausea or cramps

1. Move the victim to a cool place, and have him lie down and elevate his legs.

2. Provide plenty of cool water to drink. If possible, add salt to the water at a ratio of one teaspoon per quart.

3. Transport the victim to a medical center, even if he seems to have recovered.

4. If the victim’s condition deteriorates, put him in the recovery position and monitor breathing. Be ready to provide CPR if necessary.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself. It can stem from prolonged heat exhaustion, fever, or heat exposure. The goal of heat stroke first aid is to lower the victim’s body temperature.

Signs of Heat Stroke

• Dry, red, hot skin
• Absence of sweating
• High fever
• Vomiting
• Rapid, shallow breathing
• Seizures
• Unresponsiveness


2. Move the victim to a cool place.

3. Wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet, or sponge with cool water and/or place ice packs against his neck. If no water or ice is available, fan the victim.

4. If possible, monitor the victim’s body temperature with the goal of reducing it to at least 100.4°F (38°C).

5. If the victim’s body temperature falls to target level, replace the wet blanket with a dry one and put the victim into the recovery position.

6. Monitor body temperature and breathing. If the victim’s body temperature rises, return to cooling the body. If the victim loses consciousness, check his breathing and, if necessary, begin CPR.

Head, Neck, and Spinal Injuries

Head, neck, and spinal injuries are most often caused by falls, car crashes, diving accidents, or blows to the head, neck, or chest.

Head Injuries

Head injuries range from concussions that cause brief impairment of consciousness to grave, life-threatening injuries. Any serious head injury should be treated also as an injury to the spine or neck.

Signs of Concussion

• Brief impairment of consciousness
• Nausea or dizziness
• Memory loss

Concussion occurs when the brain is “shaken” by an impact. To provide first aid for a concussion:

1. Monitor the victim’s vital signs and responsiveness.

2. Do not leave the victim to his own care, even if he seems to have recovered. Make sure a person responsible for the victim remains near him at all times.

3. Advise the victim to go to the hospital if a headache, nausea, or drowsiness develops.

Serious Head Wounds

The most common serious head wounds are skull fractures and cerebral compressions, in which internal bleeding puts pressure on the brain.

Skull Fracture

Cerebral Compression Symptoms

• Falling responsiveness
• Head wound or bruising
• Soft scalp depression
• Bruising around eyes
• Blood from nose or ear
• Asymmetry of head or face
• Falling responsiveness
• Drowsiness
• Intense headache
• Fever or flushed skin
• Unequal pupil size
• Paralysis on one side of the body


Call EMERGENCY NUMBERS . If the victim is conscious, lay him down with his head and neck stabilized. If there is bleeding, control with pressure around (not directly on) the wound. If the victim is unconscious, monitor breathing until medical help arrives.

Call EMERGENCY NUMBERS. If the victim is conscious, keep him comfortable but keep his head and neck motionless. If the victim is unconscious, monitor breathing until medical help arrives.

Spinal Injuries

If you suspect a neck or spinal injury, don’t move the victim unless absolutely necessary.

1. Lay the victim flat and advise him not to move.


3. Kneel behind the victim’s head. Grasp both sides of the head to stabilize it in line with the neck and spine.

If you must turn the victim to keep the airway open, roll him while supporting the head, neck, and trunk. Moving a victim with a spinal injury is an absolute last resort and should be done only if the need is dire.

Skeletal Injuries

Skeletal injuries can involve bones, joints, or muscles. Bones can be fractured or dislocated from their correct position in a joint, while soft tissue such as muscles and ligaments may suffer strains, sprains, or tears.

Bone Fractures

Bone fractures can be closed, meaning that the skin is left intact, or open, meaning that the broken bone has punctured the skin. Open fractures are also called compound fractures.

First Aid for Closed Fractures

1. Ask the victim to keep still.

2. If there is significant bruising, or the fracture is of a large bone, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS. Check for signs of shock.

3. Bandage the broken bone to an uninjured part of the body. If an arm is broken, bandage against the torso; if a leg is broken, bandage to the uninjured leg. The ties on the bandage should be on the uninjured side.

4. If bandaging the broken bone causes pain, stop immediately and call EMERGENCY NUMBERS. If the victim feels coldness or tingling in his extremities, the bandages are too tight.

5. If possible, place a cold pack or bag of ice on the injured area. Keep a cloth between the ice and skin.

6. If movement causes the victim pain, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS. If the victim can move without pain, transport him to the closest hospital emergency room.

First Aid for Open (Compound) Fractures

• Cover the open wound with a loose, sterile dressing.
• Check for signs of shock.
• Build up pads around and over the wound and bone. Never put direct pressure on a protruding bone.
• Keep the victim still until medical help arrives. If the victim has to be transported to the emergency room, bandage as you would a closed fracture.


A dislocation occurs when a bone pops out of its normal position at a joint. Dislocations occur most often in the shoulder, jaw, and fingers, though they
can occur at any joint. As a first responder, your goal is to immobilize the injury and get the victim to the hospital. Never attempt to “snap” a dislocation back into place.

1. Call for medical help. Watch for signs of shock.

2. Keep the injured area immobilized.

3. Support the injured area with a sling secured with a bandage wrapped around an uninjured body part.

4. Check bandages every ten minutes to make sure they aren’t cutting off circulation.

Strains, Sprains, and Tears

Other injuries that can occur to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons include strains, sprains, and tears. They have symptoms much like those for closed fractures.

1. If the pain is severe, call for medical help.

2. If not, immobilize the area with elastic bandaging. Try to reduce pain and swelling with ice and elevation.

3. If pain persists, call for medical help or transport the victim to the hospital.


Heat, chemicals, and electricity can all cause burns. Though minor burns may only need first aid care, major burns need professional medical attention.

Major and Minor Burns

The classification of a burn as minor or major depends on the burn’s depth and the area it covers. Minor burns include:

• All superficial burns, which cause red skin and pain.
• Any partial thickness burns that cover an area smaller than your palm and don’t affect the head, neck, hands, feet, genitals, or respiratory system. Partial thickness burns cause blistering, swelling and blotchiness.

Major burns include:

• Any partial thickness burns larger than your palm or that affect the head, neck, hands, feet, genitals, or respiratory system.
• All full thickness burns, which leave a charred or white appearance and usually are painless (because they cause nerve damage).

Thermal Burn First Aid

Thermal burns are caused by fire or other heat sources.

1. If the victim’s clothing is on fire, help him drop to the ground and roll around in order to smother any flames. You can also smother the fire by covering it with a blanket or coat.

2. Once the fire is out, remove the burned clothing unless it is stuck to the skin. Remove jewelry over any burn before swelling occurs.

If the burn is major, or if victim’s 3. clothes were on fire, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS and treat him for shock. If the victim loses consciousness, check his airway and breathing. If there is no breathing, begin CPR.

4. If the burn is minor, immerse the burned area in a sink or bucket of cool (not cold) water, or cover it with a wet cloth for ten minutes. If possible, cover the burn loosely with a dry sterile dressing, but don’t tape the dressing.

Chemical Burn First Aid

Chemical burns are caused by contact with harmful chemicals. If there are fumes or spilled chemicals on the scene, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS rather than provide first aid yourself. If the scene is safe:

1. Summon medical assistance for any chemical burn.

2. If the victim has been burned with a dry chemical, brush any remaining chemical off of the skin. Be very careful not to let the chemical touch your own skin.

3. Run water over the burned area for 30–60 minutes.

4. Remove jewelry and clothing from the burned area.

5. Put a dry sterile dressing over the burn, if available.

Electrical Burn First Aid

Electrical burns are caused by direct exposure to electricity. For any electrical burn, make sure the source of electricity is no longer present or active before entering the scene, and call EMERGENCY NUMBERS. Care for an electrical burn just as you would for a thermal burn.


Poisons are substances that have a toxic effect on body tissues. They can range from overdoses of medicine to household chemicals, industrial gases, or natural plant substances. The treatment depends on the specific poison. Poisons are most commonly ingested or inhaled.

Ingested Poisons

An ingested poison can damage the digestive tract and, if absorbed into the bloodstream, can cause additional damage to the body.

Never induce vomiting in a case of ingested poison.

1. Try to determine what caused the poisoning. Look for a bottle and ask the victim or his family.

2. If victim is responsive, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS and follow directions for care.

3. If victim is unresponsive, call for help, check his airway and breathing, and provide CPR if needed. Make sure there are no chemicals on the mouth before performing CPR.

Inhaled Poisons

Signs of Ingested Poison

• Burns or redness around mouth or lips
• Breath smells like chemicals
• Empty pill bottles
• Nausea or vomiting

Gases or fumes that may cause poisoning include everything from carbon monoxide (produced by auto engines and other machines) to the fumes from household cleaners. Do not enter a scene where there may be gases or fumes until you’re absolutely sure it’s safe.

1. Move the victim to an area free of fumes.

2. Once away from the fumes, call for medical help.

3. If the victim vomits, put him in the recovery position.

4. If the victim becomes unresponsive, check his airway and breathing. If necessary, begin CPR.

Bites and Stings

Insect and spider bites and stings can be a painful nuisance, or, if the victim is allergic, the source of a life-threatening emergency. Animal and snake bites can also cause life threatening situations.

Insect Stings and Bites

The first step when dealing with an insect sting or bite is to ask whether the victim has an allergy to insect stings. If yes, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS immediately and prepare to provide first aid for anaphylactic shock. If the victim is not allergic:

1. Remove the stinger by gently scraping it away. Clean the area with soap and water if possible.

2. Apply a cold pack or ice to the sting site, keeping a cloth between the skin and the ice.

3. Observe the victim for 30 minutes for signs of an allergic reaction. At any sign of an allergic reaction, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS and treat for anaphylactic shock. Medical personnel should see any spider bite that causes symptoms such as sweating, nausea, or stomach cramps.

Animal Bites

Animal bites can cause blood loss, spread disease, and lead to infection. Notify police about any animal bite.

1. If there are large or multiple wounds, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS.

2. Stop bleeding with direct pressure to the wound.

3. If necessary, treat the victim for shock (see Shock).

4. Wash the wound with soap (if available) and water.

5. If medical assistance is not on its way, transport the victim to an emergency room as soon as possible.

Snake Bites

1. Wash the bite with soap (if available) and water.

2. Immobilize the bitten body part and gently compress the part of the limb above the bite with bandages.

3. If the victim loses consciousness, check his airway and breathing and provide CPR if needed. Do not slash a snakebite with a knife, try to suck the poison from the wound, or do anything that prevents blood from reaching or leaving the site of the wound.

Emergency Medical Issues

A number of medical conditions can appear very suddenly, demanding first aid care. The most common are fainting, hypoglycemia, seizure, heart attack, and stroke.


Fainting is a brief period of unconsciousness after which the victim recovers fully. It can result from pain, hunger, exhaustion, stress, surprise, or sudden action after inactivity.

Signs of Fainting

• Lightheadedness
• Brief loss of consciousness
• Slow pulse

1. If the victim feels faint, advise him to lie down. If the victim faints while standing up, try to ease his fall.

2. Once the victim is lying down, elevate his feet about 12 inches above the ground.

3. Treat injuries that may have occurred during a fall.

4. When the victim regains consciousness, advise him to rest. As dizziness subsides, help him to a sitting position and then gradually to a standing position.

5. If dizziness persists after 15 minutes, transport the victim to a hospital or medical care facility.

Heart Attack

A heart attack is a sudden loss of or drop in blood supply to the heart, usually caused by a blockage of one of the heart’s coronary arteries.

1. If you suspect a heart attack, call EMERGENCY NUMBERS.

2. Sit the victim in a comfortable position.

3. If possible, have the victim slowly chew a tablet of aspirin.

4. Monitor breathing and be prepared to give CPR if necessary.


Hypoglycemia is a lack of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It tends to strike people who are diabetic.

1. Provide a quick source of sugar, such as juice, non-diet soda, or a sugar packet. Many diabetics carry special glucose tablets for just this purpose.

2. If the victim does not improve within 15 minutes, give more sugar and call for help. Be prepared to provide CPR if necessary.

3. If the victim has a seizure, take actions to protect him.


A seizure involves a loss or impairment of consciousness and loss of muscle control. Many seizures are caused by a medical condition called epilepsy, but they can also result from head injuries, hypoglycemia, heat stroke, or poisoning.

Signs of Seizure

• Loss of consciousness
• Convulsive movements
• Arching of the back

1. Protect the victim by moving objects out of his way. If possible, put a towel or blanket beneath his head to protect it against impact with the floor.

2. Call for medical help.

3. After the seizure is over, check his airway and breathing. If necessary, begin CPR.

4. If the victim is breathing, help him into the recovery position. Stay with him until help arrives. Never try to restrain a seizure victim by force or try to pry open or put anything inside a seizure victim’s mouth.


A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped or impaired by a blood clot or rupture of a blood vessel. Strokes tend to affect older people or people suffering from high blood pressure. Speedy medical care is the priority for any stroke victim.


2. If the victim is conscious, lay him down with his head and shoulders slightly elevated, and rest his head slightly to the side. The victim may dribble from the mouth.

3. If the victim becomes unconscious, check his airway and breathing. If necessary, begin CPR.

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