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Here are some of the top myths about first aid

You’ve likely heard an old wives tale or sourced Dr Google for some answers to your health ailments, but this can make it hard to differentiate between fact and fiction. We’ve put together some common first aid myths we’ve come across here at The First Aid Shop to offer some clarity. After all, the level of first aid a patient receives can have a big influence on how well they recover. Let’s get started!

Putting butter on a burn to alleviate pain

Putting butter on a burn to alleviate pain is an old wives tale that has been around forever. Is there any truth to it? No, butter should never be used to treat a burn under any circumstances. Doing so can make the burn worse and cause an infection. It can inhibit the healing process and can lead to scarring that perhaps wouldn’t have occurred if the correct first aid was applied. So, what should you do? Run the affected area under tepid water for at least 10 minutes. You can use a cool compress such as a wet cloth over the burn to take out the sting. Ensure the cloth is clean and sanitary before applying it to the burn. Avoid ice. After compressing the burn, you can then apply a thin layer of anti-bacterial cream, ointment etc on the area. This can help to fend off an infection. Cover with an appropriate sterile dressing.

Tilting the head back when you have a nosebleed

There are many misconceptions out there about the best way to treat a nosebleed, and one of the more common ones you’ve probably heard of is tilting your head back when you have a nosebleed. Well, contrary to somewhat popular belief, this isn’t how you treat a nosebleed. Tilting your head back will send the blood down to your throat and into the stomach. If this occurs, it’s not uncommon to feel nauseous and vomit as a result. Proper first aid includes sitting down and pinching the fleshy part of the nose, right above the nostrils. If you are helping someone with a nosebleed, get them to do this themselves, explaining how. The nose should be pinched firmly for at least 10 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. Lean forward slightly and breathe through your mouth. You can place an ice pack or equivalent on the bridge on the nose if you choose.

Sucking venom out of a snake bite

If someone has been bitten by a snake, can sucking the venom out actually help the victim? The short answer is no, and here is why. Placing your mouth on an open wound for starters is unsanitary, and you may cause an infection or transmit disease to the victim or vice versa. You risk poisoning yourself (if you manage to get any venom out of the wound). If you or someone else has been bitten by a snake, the first thing you should do is call 000 for assistance. Get the casualty to remain very still, and instruct them to remain calm. This can slow down the rate that the venom spreads throughout the body. Ensure no one is in immediate danger of being bitten again by checking the snake has gone. You’ll need to immobilise the area that’s been bitten, and you can do this by using a pressure immobilisation bandage and splint. If you don’t have these, you can improvise by using a jumper, t-shirt or whatever you have on you at the time. You’ll need to roll the bandage over the site firmly. Using a second bandage, start at the toes or fingertips and roll the bandage as far as it will go up the limb. Again, this needs to be applied firmly. Once you have done this, mark the area where the bite is using anything you have, if you don’t have a marker, use dirt. Hold splint into position using another bandage or ripped up material. If you don’t have a splint, a stick will work.

Applying a warm compress to sprain

Applying warmth to a sprain can make swelling at the site worse as it increases circulation to the area. Using a warm compress has many benefits just not for an initial injury such as a sprain. It should be used in the later stages when the sprain is healing. When a sprain first occurs, cold compresses are recommended. The R.I.C.E method is advisable, and that stands for:

Rest – Rest for two days and more for moderate to severe injuries. Overdoing it can see the injury worsen.

Ice – Cover an ice pack with a thin cloth and place it on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes with 2-3 hours breaks in between. This should be done for at least 24 hours at the minimum.

Compression – Wrap an elastic bandage around the injury to support it and to reduce swelling.

Elevate – Keeping the injury area higher than your heart can help to minimise pain, swelling and throbbing.

You may have laughed at a few of these myths or perhaps you have heard them before and thought they were true, either way, the most effective way to get clear and concise information on how to administer first aid correctly is by taking part in a nationally accredited first aid course. You never know when you may need to use it and knowing what to do can help to promote better outcomes for the first aid receiver, and it allows you to administer first aid efficiently and with confidence. For all your first aid supplies, check us out here at The First Aid Shop.

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