Published On: Tue, Jun 18th, 2013

10 Common First Aid Misconceptions Debunked

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10 Common First Aid Misconceptions Debunked

By: PeteCC BY 2.0

Understanding the basics of first aid is very important because it can make a big difference in saving a person’s life when the situation calls for it. Unfortunately, not everybody has knowledge about the correct procedures when it comes to CPR, recovery positions and the like. Unnecessary deaths can be prevented if people know how to cope in certain situations. Learning all the basics of first aid will no doubt be very useful in this regard. But first, let us take a look at common misconceptions people have about first aid that get in the way of saving a life.

Misconception 1: The ambulance will come right away

Some people tend to think that from the moment they call the ambulance, it will arrive within a minute – but this is not the case. Ambulances may take 5 to 10 minutes getting to the destination they are required. These are crucial minutes of a person’s life.

Misconception 2: Doing nothing is better than risking making matters worse

You can’t just sit there and not to do a thing. Certain steps need to be taken to sustain a person’s life. If they are bleeding, and the bleeding is not hampered, then they can lose a lot of blood and die from shock. People who are breathing but unconscious need to be placed in the recovery position to prevent them from choking on their tongue or vomit. If someone is not breathing and unconscious, doing something is better than nothing because otherwise they may continue to be like that.

Misconception 3: Hold your head back when you have a nosebleed

If that’s what you thought should be done with a nosebleed, then you’re wrong. Why? Because holding your head back may result in blood getting into your throat and causing nausea and vomiting. The correct way to go is to hold your head forward, close your nostrils with your fingers and let breathing be done through your mouth.

Misconception 4: People who have had a heart attack should lie down

Lying down can actually make it more difficult for a person to breathe. The best position is to sit up with your head and shoulders rested, and your knees bent.

Misconception 5: Stop heavy bleeding of an arm or leg by tying a tight tourniquet around the limb above the injury

Many people assume this is the sensible thing to do, but it’s not. It can result in blood flow to the limb being stopped and this can cause ischemic damage to the tissue. It’s better to use a dressing to apply pressure to the region and keep the limb elevated.

Misconception 6: Never move someone after they have had a motor accident

While spinal injury may be a valid reason for concern, it’s more important to check if the person is actually breathing. You can check the airway of an unconscious person by using the technique of tilting the head back and lifting the chin.

Misconception 7: If a kid ingests bleach, they should be made to vomit

That is a big no no, as it can cause more harm to the internal organs. You should call the ambulance and give the child cold water or milk to sip on to soothe burnt lips.

Misconception 8: Place your fingers down a person’s throat if they are choking on something

This shouldn’t be done because it can cause the foreign object to move further down the airway. The best thing to do is firmly hit them on the upper back with the heel of the hand. If this doesn’t work, you can try using abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver), which involves applying pressure to the bottom of the diaphragm. This technique can cause injury, and someone who has it done to them should subsequently be looked at by a doctor. Also, if a child is choking, it’s not wise to hold them upside down – it will just make them distressful and there’s also the risk of a head injury.

Misconception 9: If a person is experiencing an epileptic fit, place something in their mouth

The rationale behind this is to keep them from biting their tongue, but this can actually cause more harm than good. It can result in them breaking their teeth or the object itself which can be a choking hazard. Instead, you should use something soft to cushion the area, like a blanket, and get rid of any hazards in the way. After the seizure has abated, you should monitor their breathing and they should be put in the recovery position.

Misconception 10: For a person feeling faint, their head should be placed between their legs

That could cause them to fall forwards and injure themselves. The best position is to have them lie down and raise their legs to improve blood brain flow, while exposing them to fresh air.

Now that you’re familiar with these first aid misconceptions and what should be done instead, you can learn the right way to act in emergency situations and help save lives.

John is a passionate blogger and works as a first aid instructor.

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