Bright Side collected 10 common myths about first aid so that you won’t feel confused about what to do when someone needs help.
11. Applying ice to a bruise
Why it’s wrong: Ice indeed helps reduce bruises, but don’t apply the pack directly to the skin or you’ll get a cold burn.
Doing it right: Put a cloth between your skin and the ice. Apply cold for 20 minutes, remove the ice, and wait 20 more minutes. Repeat several times.
10. Rubbing a person with a fever with alcohol or vinegar
Why it’s wrong: Vinegar and alcohol are absorbed into the blood. Alcohol rubbing may create intoxication, while vinegar will raise acidity too much. It’s especially dangerous for children.
Doing it right: A fever can be alleviated by drinking a lot and cool air in the room (61-64°F). If these conditions are observed, the patient will get over the fever, if it’s not too high, by themselves.
9. Lifting up an unconscious person
Why it’s wrong: If someone faints, don’t try lifting them or sprinkling cold water on them — it’ll just aggravate the spasm. After they regain consciousness, don’t let them drink coffee or energy drinks: caffeine will lead to dehydration.
Doing it right: Lift the person’s legs up, unbutton any tight items of clothing, and don’t let them stand right after they come around.
8. Using butter or sour cream to treat burns
Why it’s wrong: The only reason you’ll feel better after this is because the substance is cold on the burn. The danger here, though, is that butter or sour cream dries and creates a film, disrupting thermal exchange (heat goes deeper and does more damage).
Doing it right: Hold the burned area in cool water for 15 minutes. Never burst the burn blister as that will remove the protective layer and leave the wound open for infections that may lead to festering.
7. Setting a bone on your own
Why it’s wrong: You shouldn’t set a dislocated joint on your own as it may result in additional injuries.
Doing it right: Immobilize the injured limb, and get the victim to the hospital. The limb mustn’t be set forcefully. Instead, bandage it in a comfortable position, immobilizing not only the place of possible fracture but the 2 closest joints as well.
6. Applying warmth to a sprain
Why it’s wrong: A warm cloth won’t help if your muscles are sprained. On the contrary, heat will strengthen the blood flow, leading to a more severe swelling.
Doing it right: Apply cold in the first days after an injury. It will lessen inflammation and pain. Ensure a minimum load on the injured limb for 48 hours.
5. Making yourself vomit in cases of poisoning
Why it’s wrong: The standard recommendation for poisoning is to make yourself vomit. However, it is strictly prohibited if you’ve been poisoned with acid, alkali, or other caustic substances.
Doing it right: Call an ambulance immediately. If you’re still sure vomiting will do you good, don’t use manganese, baking soda, or milk to induce it. Instead, drink lots of warm water.
4. Dealing with a foreign object in the eye
Why it’s wrong: You risk a wrong movement of your hand and resulting injuries.
Doing it right: Cover the eye with gauze, and call a doctor. Only if it’s a chemical burn should you immediately wash the eye with water.
3. Pulling out objects from wounds
Why it’s wrong: You may pull a splinter from a finger or a small glass shard from your hand, but never attempt to pull objects from serious wounds. Doctors keep them in place until the patient is in surgery. Otherwise, bleeding will occur that may lead to death.
Doing it right: However scary a knife in a leg or a huge shard in the chest may look, take the person to the hospital instead of helping them pull the object out of their body.
2. Applying ointments to a wound
Why it’s wrong: A wound will better heal in fresh air, while ointments create unwanted moisture.
Doing it right: Clean the wound in cool water with soap, and dress it with a dry clean bandage.
1. Using stitches instead of skin glue to close cuts and wounds
Why it’s wrong: Putting stitches on wounds is a long and painful procedure which requires removing the stitches later. The use of skin glue has 2 main advantages: it is quick and virtually painless.
Doing it right: First, stop the bleeding by applying pressure. Then close the edges of the wound, and apply a skin glue. Wait until it dries.