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The STS blog

5 Oct 2015

First Aid Myths… and why you shouldn’t believe the internet…

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This month, we’ve been thinking about some common myths to do with First Aid. There’s quite a bit of confusion out there on what to do in emergency situations, and whilst the internet is a wonderful thing, we wouldn’t necessarily want you to believe everything you see online. That’s why it’s always best to use a fully qualified training provider to make sure you have the most accurate, up to date and important information on first aid.

So we thought that we’d challenge a few of the most common first aid myths:

MYTH 1.    If you have a nosebleed, tilt your head back.

This isn’t actually correct, (although it was the advice back in the 70’s) Tilting your head back can cause blood to run into the throat, which in turn can lead to nausea and vomiting.

Nosebleed infographic

The best thing to do with a nosebleed is to tilt your head forward, and pinch your nostrils shut whilst breathing through the mouth. You should keep the nostrils pinched for a good five to ten minutes which should stop the bleeding. If it hasn’t stopped within 30 minutes, you should go to a hospital.

MYTH 2.  Put butter or mayonnaise on a burn to help it heal.

Personally, we at STS wouldn’t be totally confident letting Chef Paul make our dinner let alone taking his advice on first aid! The best advice for treating burn injuries is to run the affected area under cold water for at least ten minutes to cool the burn. Afterwards, loosely wrap the burned area in cling film or a clean plastic bag. The reason for this is to help keep the area clean. Cling film or plastic will not stick to the burned area and reduces pain by keeping air from the skin’s surface.

It goes without saying that in the event of a serious burn you should always call 999.

MYTH 3.    You should put something between someone’s teeth when they are having a seizure.

This was intended to prevent the person from biting their tongue, but there is a serious risk here of them breaking the object (or even their teeth), and then choking on the pieces. There’s also a risk of being bitten whilst you are trying to get the object into the casualty’s mouth. Which would be awkward if you ended up running to the aid of this guy…

So the best thing to do if someone’s having a seizure is to clear the area of people and hazards that might injure the person, cushion their head with a coat or blanket, and stay with them until the seizure ends. Once it’s over, you should put them in recovery position and check their breathing.

MYTH 4.  If someone feels faint, put their head between their legs.

On the TV, you quite often get no warning of when someone’s going to keel over.

Actually, this carries the risk of them falling forwards and hurting themselves even more. The best thing is for the person to lie down and elevate their legs. This will increase blood flow to the brain and makes sure they also have plenty of fresh air.

MYTH 5.   Heart attack victims should lie down, rather than sit up.

Apparently, 1 in 10 of us think this is the best position for someone having a heart attack but in actual fact it creates more strain on the heart and also makes breathing more difficult. The best position to be in is a half-sitting position with head and shoulders, supported by something upright like a wall or sofa. It’s also important to dial 999 as soon as possible.

So there you have it. We hope we’ve helped clarify things for you. See you next month.