First aid treatment is surrounded by many myths and old wives tales, some are harmless, but won’t actually make you feel better, but some could could be quite harmful and should be avoided at all costs. Below are the top 5 myths that people still believe. if you’d like more information on these or other first aid treatments that you hear then please get in touch.
Head Between Your Legs If You Feel faint
I hope you’re feeling fit and well as you read this? Yes? Good. Now lean forward and stick your head between your knees……. No, actually please don’t! Because, very quickly, you’ll find it hard to breathe and may start to feel a bit dizzy; at the very least you’ll feel very uncomfortable. However this is still the go to treatment for most people when someone feels faint.
There are many underlying causes for a faint but they all basically caused by insufficient oxygen supply to vital organs including the brain. Bending someone double decreases their ability to take in sufficient oxygen.
The Real Treatment
You need to get the oxygen in the blood back to those vital organs, the first aid for a faint is to lie the casualty flat and then elevate their legs above the level of their waist. Always ensure the casualty has an effective airway whilst lying flat by tilting their head back slightly. They should come around quite quickly. Once they do, sit them up slowly and then support them to a seat or chair until they are feeling better.
Put Butter On A Burn
You’re happily cooking away, when you get distracted and grab the handle of the frying pan you’ve been using for oven roasting, the same one you carefully lifted from the oven a few minutes previously. You remember that a burn needs to be cooled & vaguely remember your Gran reaching for the butter. Makes sense, its nice and cold from being in the fridge, that’ll take the heat away! No, it won’t; although initially cool the butter will then help retain heat in the burn and increase chances of scarring.
When you burn yourself the heat is absorbed in the layer of fat below the skin & held there, that’s the job of the fat, to retain heat and help keep you warm, butter is also a fat, so that’s why it shouldn’t be used on a burn as it will also retain heat.
The Real Treatment
Cool the burned area immediately with water, either by running it under a tap or if possible immersing it in cold water, for at least ten minutes. No creams, lotions or potions are required, just water, but definitely never use ice. If it’s a large burn then, once cooled, cover it in cling film and seek medical attention.
Leave the butter for where it should be, slathered on a slice of warm crusty bread.
Tilt Your Head Back For A Nosebleed
The kids are out playing, when you hear crying and one runs in, they’ve taken a football to the face and the blood is flowing out of their nose. You sit them down and get them to put their head back and pinch the top of their nose. There’s a couple of things wrong with this; first, by putting their head back blood can go back down their throat, either by going down the back of the nose or going into their mouth. They’ll swallow the blood which will make them vomit and potentially they could inhale some of the blood too, which will lead to further complications. Second, pinching the top of the nose will do nothing to stop the blood flow as there’s a bone at the top so you’re not applying pressure to the area that needs it.
The Real Treatment
Sit them down and get them to lean forward slightly, get them to pinch the fleshy part of the nose, down towards the bottom. Put a bowl under under them and tell them to spit out any blood that goes in their mouth. They need to keep the pressure on the nose for around 10 minutes. If the bleed doesn’t stop or keeps reoccurring then seek medical advice.
Once the bleed has stopped, then there’s a few rules, no vigorous exercise for a few hours, no hot drinks and no picking!
Brandy For Hypothermia
For some, the image of a St. Bernard dog with a small barrel of brandy on it’s collar is what comes to mind when we think of the snowy mountain rescue of a shivering casualty suffering from hypothermia. The brandy feels lovely and warm as you swallow it, and puts a nice rosy glow in your cheeks, so it must help warm you from the inside out? If only that were true!
The average core temperature of an adult is between 36.1° – 37.2° celsius, if it goes below 35° celsius then you are suffering from hypothermia. Introducing alcohol causes superficial blood vessels in the skin to dilate, increasing the blood flow to the skin, so you get the nice pink cheeks, but you divert the warm blood away from your essential organs, where it’s needed. So I’m afraid brandy, or any other alcohol, is not recommended for hypothermia, or to be honest, any situation requiring first aid….. except maybe for the first aider, after they have successfully treated a casualty.
The Real Treatment
Remove the casualty from the cooling agent, wind and water increase chill factor, so get them to a sheltered area and if their clothing is wet replace with dry clothes. Do not lie them directly onto a floor, use an insulating material, if outdoors then pine branches or bracken are good. Other insulating materials are blankets, newspapers or cardboard. If you have a sleeping bag, place them in it and wrap a silver or plastic survival bag or blanket around them. Warm drinks and high energy foods can be given whilst you wait for help to arrive. Do not use direct heat sources next to the casualty such as a large fire or a hot water bottle as these can cause burns. The rescuers body heat is ideal for warming the casualty, so give them a hug.
Breathe Into A Paper Bag For A Panic Attack
You’ve seen it in the movies, someone panics and starts to breathe fast, or hyperventilate, and along comes a helper and sticks a paper bag over their nose and mouth and in a few moments their breathing starts to regulate back to normal, it’s like magic. But just like magic, it’s also not real.
Hyperventilating causes an increased loss of carbon dioxide from the blood, changing the blood’s chemistry making the casualty feel dizzy and causes trembling and tingling in the fingers and lips. The thought process behind breathing into a paper bag is that if too much carbon dioxide is being lost, then rebreathing air with a higher concentration of carbon dioxide will replace it. The problem is the casualty may have other medical issues, such as cardiac problems, and breathing into a bag may aggravate more serious illnesses.
The Real Treatment
First thing to do is remove the source of the anxiety if possible. Reassure and calm them down, ask them questions they have to give more than one word answers to. If there are bystanders crowding around ask them to leave. Put them into a comfortable position and stay with them until the anxiety attack has passed. Encourage them to seek medical advice on preventing future panic attacks. By the way, the other treatment you may have seen for panic attacks in the movies is slapping the casualty, please don’t do this, at best you’ll get a slap back, at worst, a criminal record.
I hope you’ve found the advice here useful, share this post amongst your friends so they’ll know what to do if faced with these common first aid situations.
With all first aid, if in doubt, or if the casualty is getting worse, then contact the emergency services by dialling 999 or 112.
Always advise casualties to seek medical advice after any first aid incident, even if they seem to make a full recovery.
If you want to learn more about how to treat these or a range of other first aid situations, then Medsafe Consultancy has a wide portfolio of first aid courses perfect for you, all fully compliant with Health and Safety legislation and will provide you with the skills for lifesaving.