When someone is injured, knowledge is the first line of defense so it’s important to know how to treat basic injuries to avoid long-term and/or permanent damage. To help prepare you, we compiled a list of basic first-aid procedures for common injuries.
These treatments will use basic first aid techniques and supplies. If you’re not sure what you should have in your first-aid kit, we compiled a list of items everyone should have, plus additional items for people that care for small children and those that use their kit outdoors.
Please note that the information in this post is not a substitute for medical attention. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury or your symptoms worsen after applying basic first aid, please seek professional medical treatment.
Basic First Aid Treatment
Remember that when administering first aid treatment that involves contact with bodily fluids, it’s important to wear protective gloves to eliminate the risk of disease transmission. For treatment of other injuries, gloves are optional.
Clean the injured area with soap and water and blot the wound dry. Avoid cleaning wounds with hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol as it can actually damage the tissue and delay healing. Once the wound is dry, apply antibiotic ointment and cover with gauze or a bandage.
Minor Cuts & Scrapes
First, stop the bleeding. If the cut or scrape does not stop bleeding on its own, apply pressure to the wound with clean a clean cloth or clean gauze while keeping the wound elevated. Clean the injury using soap and warm water, apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage, and watch for signs of infection.
Bee & Wasp Stings
First, try to remove the stinger with tweezers or by scraping the stung area with a credit card. Then apply a cool compress to reduce swelling and remove tight clothing or accessories from the area in case swelling occurs. Watch for signs of shock or allergic reaction by checking the victim’s airway, breathing, and circulation. If any of these are impeded, call 911 immediately.
In order to ensure proper treatment, it’s important to recognize the type of burn the victim has sustained:
First Degree Burn: the skin will appear red and may be painful or swollen. First-degree burns generally do not require medical attention.
Second Degree Burn: the skin will appear red, blistered, and swollen. These may require medical attention.
Third Degree Burn: the skin will be visibly charred and may turn white. Third-degree burns are very painful and require medical attention.
For first and second-degree burns: submerge the affected area in cool water until the pain stops. If the affected area is too large to submerge, like the torso or face, cover it with cool, wet cloths. If blisters appear, do not break them. If no medical treatment is necessary, medicated first aid cream can be applied for pain.
For third-degree burns or very serious second-degree burns: call 911 immediately. Do not try to remove clothing stuck to the burned area, and do not apply compresses, creams, or gels for relief.
The first thing to remember with nosebleeds is that even though they are scary, they are rarely serious. It’s important to stay calm, especially if the person with a nosebleed is a child, so as not to cause panic.
To stop a nosebleed, keep the person upright with the head tilted slightly forward. Have the person pinch the lower half of their nose (the soft part) and hold it firmly for ten minutes. After ten minutes, if bleeding persists, repeat the exercise. If it is still bleeding after the second round of holding, call 911 or take the person to the emergency room. When treating a nosebleed, do not lay the person on their back, tilt their head back, or stuff tissues into the nose to stop bleeding.
To remove a splinter, first wash and dry the area to reduce the risk of infection. Then, using a magnifying glass, determine which way it entered the skin. Remove the splinter with sterilized tweezers, pulling it out in the same direction it went into the skin. Never try to squeeze out a splinter as this could cause it to break into smaller pieces, making it harder to remove. Once the splinter is out, wash the area with soap and water again, applying a bandage if necessary.
Wrist & Ankle Sprains
Sprains happen when the ligaments in your ankle or wrist get stretched or torn. Most of the time these are mild and can be treated at home. For wrist sprains, remember the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Rest your wrist by using it as little as possible, apply ice in 20 minute increments, wear an elastic compression wrap/bandage to help reduce swelling, and keep your wrist elevated at or above the level of your heart.
The at-home treatment for ankle sprains is similar. Remember the acronym MICE: motion, ice, compression, elevation. Motion may seem counterintuitive for a sprained ankle but it’s important to try slowly flexing your foot upwards immediately after the sprain. Repeating this motion, combined with ice, compression, and elevation, can help reduce swelling and promote healing.
Heat Exhaustion & Heatstroke
When the body gets too hot, you may develop heat exhaustion, which can lead to heatstroke, a serious condition. Signs of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, excessive sweating, pale or cold skin, dizziness, and confusion.
To treat heat exhaustion, move the person inside or into a shaded area. Have them lie down and elevate their legs to help blood reach their heart. Remove any tight clothing, apply cool, damp towels to the skin, and have them sip ice water or electrolyte drinks. If these treatments are not effective and the person develops a fever of over 102 Fahrenheit, faints, or has a seizure, call 911 immediately.
Learn Advanced First-Aid Techniques with CPR Educators
Our team at CPR Educators, Inc teaches several types of CPR trainings such Heartsaver Pediatric First Aid, Basic Life Support, and more. We also offer online courses To register for a class, call us now at (919) 639-4848 or register online.