close
Advertisement

First Aid Disasters that are Easily Avoided

Here’s what some top international emergency-care doctors wish you knew…

Advertisement

Treating an injury promptly and properly can have a huge effect on recovery. But many patients still handle common wounds the wrong way – often thanks to old wives tales that won’t die. Here’s what some top international emergency-care doctors wish you knew:

Not treating a burn long enough

Forget butter or ice –the best way to soothe burned skin is to run it under cool water. But a few seconds or minutes aren’t enough, you need to do it for at least ten to 20 minutes, says Dr Jeffrey Pellegrino of the American Red Cross. "The heat from a burn travels deep into your skin, where it can continue to destroy tissue even if you’ve cooled the surface. You need the cold to soak in."

Tilting your head back during a nosebleed

This can cause the blood to drain into the back of your throat, which can make you gag or cough, potentially obstructing breathing. Instead, apply direct pressure by pinching your nose, but keep your head in a neutral position with your chin parallel to the ground.

Putting heat on a sprain or fracture

"Always apply cold initially," says Dr William Gluckman from the Urgent Care Association of America. Ice helps decrease swelling, whereas heat boosts blood flow, which can make swelling worse.

Trying to remove debris from an injured eye

Fishing around for the irritant can worsen the wound and even lead to permanent damage. Instead, secure a paper cup over the eye with tape so nothing else can get in and seek immediate care. The exception is if you get a chemical in your eye; in that case, flush it out with water for about 15 minutes.

Removing gauze from a bleeding wound

If the gauze pad soaks through, don’t replace it – just add a fresh piece of gauze on top, says Chris Cebollero, chief of Emergency Medical Services at Christian Hospital, St Louis. Clotting factors in blood attach to the wound surface, helping to stop bleeding; removing the old gauze can also remove those factors and make the wound start bleeding again. See a doctor for major bleeding.



Advertisement

More in Tips/Advice

13 things you need to know about food poisoning

13 things you need to know about food poisoning

Food poisoning is highly unpleasant – and can even be downright dangerous. Here’s how you can avoid falling ill.
20 easy ways to stay healthy – whatever your stage of life

20 easy ways to stay healthy – whatever your stage of life

Good health can be enhanced and illness prevented or treated in simple ways that anyone can manage. This mix of traditional wisdom and new scientific discoveries can help you stay fit and healthy for life.
Say goodbye to bad breath

How to say goodbye to bad breath for good

Natural dental hygiene tips for halitosis.
38 secrets hospitals won’t tell you

38 secrets hospitals won’t tell you

No-one looks forward to a health crisis, but our insights and tips will help you get better care, cut costs – and get out alive.
Best-kept secrets of surgeons around the world

Best-kept secrets of surgeons around the world

Surgeons have our lives in their hands, but most of us know more about the people who cut our hair than the doctors who cut our bodies. Here, insider tips to become a smarter, healthier patient.
Advertisement