Basic First Aid Procedures

Most Common Basic First Aid Procedures

A quick primer on the most basic first aid procedures. This is no substitute for proper first aid training, but it will get you through a minor crisis.

Adult resuscitation
CPR is the most important medical procedure of all. Science Photo Library / Getty Images

 Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the most important medical procedure of all. If a person is in cardiac arrest (the heart is no longer pumping blood) and CPR is not performed, that person will die.

On the other hand, performing CPR could absolutely save a life.


Bleeding Hand
(c) Manchan/Getty Images

Regardless how severe, almost all bleeding can be controlled. Mild bleeding will usually stop on its own. If severe bleeding is not controlled, it may lead to shock and eventually death.

If you are faced with bleeding right now, cover it with a cloth and press on the wound to stop the blood flow. Now follow the link for more instructions on how to stop bleeding.


Second degree burn on hand
(c) Tim Ballantine

The first step to treating a burn is to stop the burning process. Chemicals need to be cleaned off. Electricity needs to be turned off. Heat needs to be cooled down with running water. Sunburn victims need to be covered up or go inside.

No matter what caused the burns or how bad they are, stopping the burn comes before treating the burn.


blister on foot
If your blister has a hole in it, maybe it's time to remove it. Rod Brouhard

Whether or not a blister needs any treatment is still debatable. If the blister is small, unbroken and not very painful, it is probably best to leave it alone. If the blister is large or painful -- especially if the activity isn’t finished (such as you are in the middle of a hike) -- follow these steps to drain and dress it.


All extremity injuries need to be treated as broken bones (fractures) until an X-ray can be obtained.

There are all kinds of broken bone myths, such as not being able to walk on a broken leg or whether there's a difference between a fracture and a break. Bottom line: if you don't have Superman's x-ray eyes, treat it like it's broken.


Ankle sprain
Ankle sprain. (c) Ed Kohler

That Superman-x-ray-vision thing goes for sprains as well. The symptoms of a sprain are almost exactly the same as that of a broken bone. When in doubt, sprains should be treated the same as broken bones. If you talk to a paramedic, you'll discover that the treatment for sprains is the same as broken bones anyway. At least until you get to an orthopedic doctor, that is.


soccer player bloody nose
(c) Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Most of us have had a bloody nose at some time in our lives. It simply means bleeding from the inside of the nose; the mucous membrane (where snot comes from).

Want to know the biggest cause of a nosebleed?

Digital trauma—otherwise known as picking it.


Basic First Aid for Frostbite

Frostbitten Fingers
(c) Dan Darley

Frostbite occurs when the body's tissues freeze deeply in the cold. Ice crystals that form in the tissues cause damage to the cells.

This is the opposite of a burn, but it does almost identical damage to the skin.

Basic First Aid for Bee Stings

Stinging bee
(c) Dimas Ardian/Getty Images

Bee stings are either annoyingly painful or deadly, depending on if the victim is allergic to the venom.

Bee stings are also the basis for the biggest myth in first aid (hint: get the stinger out any way you can).

Basic First Aid for Jellyfish Stings

sea anemone sting
(c) Missi Bellande
The problem with jellyfish is that they sneak up on their victims. Swimmers are cruising along in the ocean one minute, and feeling the sting of the jellyfish the next.

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