In an emergency, every second counts. Yet according to the Centers For Disease Control, people who go to the E.R. wait an average of 45 minutes to see a doctor! So, the more first aid you can do BEFORE you get to the hospital, and the more mistakes you can avoid, the better off you’ll be. So here are four common first aid mistakes, and what to do instead. We got these from the Emergency Nurses Association and Newsweek magazine.
- Mistake #1: Rubbing butter or ice on a burn. It’s not a good idea. Doctors say the grease in butter attracts germs, creating an ideal environment for infection! The best fix: For a mild burn, rinse the area under cool water, then apply an antibiotic ointment. For deeper burns that cause blisters, go straight to a hospital.
- First Aid mistake #2: Ignoring electrical burns. The truth is, damage from an electric shock can happen below the skin – deep inside the body. Those invisible burns kill 500 people in North America each year. So even if think you’re okay after being shocked by an exposed wire, see a doctor immediately for a thorough check-up!
- Another common First Aid mistake: Rinsing off a tooth that was knocked out of your mouth. Every tooth has a protective layer of cells called the periodontal ligament, and the goal of re-implanting a tooth is to keep that ligament healthy. Dentists point out that the ligament cells can dry out and die within 15 minutes of being exposed to air. Rinsing a tooth in water will only speed up the process! So if you lose a tooth, soak it in a protective solution – like milk – and go straight to the E.R.
- First Aid mistake #4: You accidentally sliced off part of a finger, and put the severed part on ice! Why’s that bad? Because that ice could be contaminated! Which could infect the finger enough to make it impossible to re-attach! Here’s what to do instead: Soak clean gauze in sterile saline – like contact lens solution. Then put the gauze-wrapped finger in a watertight bag, and put THAT on ice. That’ll keep the digit sterilized until a doctor can reattach it.