First aid myths and mistakes
It’s easy to make a mistake when confronted with an injury or potential emergency. If you’re rushing to take care of someone – possibly even yourself – with a cut, a burn, or an allergic reaction, you might turn to a home remedy that you learned as a child or make a decision based on a common myth. However, first aid mistakes can increase the risk of infection or worsen an injury. In some cases, mistakes are more dangerous, or even potentially life threatening. Here are the most common mistakes people make and what you should do instead, according to emergency room doctors and other first aid experts.
Tipping your head back during a nosebleed
“Never do this,” says emergency physician, Dr Christopher Sampson. “This makes the blood run down the back of your throat.” Not only does this outdated move do nothing to control the bleeding, he adds, it can make you vomit up blood.
Do this instead: lean forward and pinch the bridge of the nose. Most nosebleeds – which are common and can be triggered by allergies or dry weather – resolve within 10 minutes. If yours lasts any longer, “pack it with a tampon and get to the ER,” advises Dr Jesse Sandhu.
Putting butter or ice on a burn
This age-old advice is plain bad-old advice, says paediatrician, Dr Christina Johns. Other no-nos include toothpaste and cocoa butter. “Sometimes when these home remedies are applied right away, it actually can trap the heat within the burn and make things worse.” Freezing the tissue with ice is also unhelpful, she adds. “The goal is to return to normal temperature and the ice can make the skin too cold.”
Do this instead: run cool (not icy cold) water on burns for several minutes, Dr Johns recommends. Cover with a clean dry dressing (like gauze) and get medical care.