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10 First Aid Myths – Kelowna Vernon Penticton
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CPR Always Saves Lives Have you ever heard of someone saying that CPR saves lives? While this may be the intention of CPR it is far from the truth. Yes, it is effective in maintaining circulation, but this does not sustain life for more than a few minutes, and does not restart the heart. In fact, [...]
Have you ever heard of someone saying that CPR saves lives? While this may be the intention of CPR it is far from the truth. Yes, it is effective in maintaining circulation, but this does not sustain life for more than a few minutes, and does not restart the heart.
In fact, at the best of times, CPR alone is only effective at resuscitating about 3%-5% of cardiac arrest victims. This doesn’t mean it’s useless and that we shouldn’t use it, but it is important to understand that most people will not be revived.
Other things that will influence the victim’s chance of revival include how long they’ve been unconscious, how long it takes for paramedics to arrive, the use of a defibrillator, and what exactly has occurred to them physiologically.
You may have seen this on TV. Where someone can not breathe, because of an allergic reaction or due to choking on something. Then someone comes along and cuts a hole on the person’s throat just below the voice box and miraculously saves their life.
What they don’t tell you is that cutting just slightly too far to the left or right will cut into the major arteries of the neck which will cause severe bleeding and death. Even if you do it incorrectly blood from the cut will drain into the person’s airway and can prevent breathing.
This method is not taught by any of the major first aid teaching organizations, and should only be used by highly trained personnel.
You should never ever put anything on a burn that has not been recommended by a pharmacist or a physician. A common myth is to put butter, or some other household product, on a burn. We don’t know where this myth came from, but we do know it can do a lot of damage and result in even more pain.
Initially the cold butter will feel good because it is cold. But, very quickly the butter will warm up. And because it is oil based it will keep the heat trapped in the tissue. This will cause the tissue to burn longer as the heat is not able to escape.
What’s worse is that if the burn is serious enough to require medical attention, the physician will have to remove the butter to prevent infection. And as you may already know, removing oil is not very easy. It may require chemicals (storn soap), or even scrubbing. This will be very painful at the best of times, let alone on a fresh burn.
Burns to the skin can be very serious. Any burn where the skin is damaged should be seen by a physician.
If you’ve ever watched old cowboy movies you’ve probably seen one of the heroes get bitten by a snake. Then his partner will come along with a sharp knife, slice a couple of inches of skin where the bite mark is, and then suck the venom out with his mouth. Not a good idea.
What you probably don’t know is that once venom enters your body from a snake bite it travels very quickly through the blood stream. Literally, within a couple of seconds it’s long gone from the area of the bite. And even if do you somehow do manage to suck blood filled with snake venom into your mouth, it will quickly be absorbed into your blood stream through the very thin skin in your mouth.
A tourniquet is a method of controlling severe bleeding, by tying something above the cut and totally restricting blood flow to the limb. While this will work in controlling bleeding, it is no longer taught by any of the major first aid agencies, because it can easily lead to gangrene (death of tissue) of the limb. This occurs because tissue dies very quickly without blood flow.
Tourniquets should only be used in very extreme cases. Even so, every few minutes the tourniquet should be loosened to allow some blood to flow through.
It is very tempting to break blisters. However, doing so will expose very sensitive skin which can be more painful and can lead to infection.
If by chance the blister does break, do not tear the skin off. Many times the skin will heal. It may regrow permanently or fall off in a few days when the underlying skin has toughened up a bit.
If someone is having a convulsion or seizure do not put anything in their mouths This myth is very common because we’ve all been taught to be concerned with the person biting their tongue. However, if this were going to happen, chances are the victim will have done it before you get to them. Also, by putting objects into someone’s mouth results in a high risk that the object will break and result in choking. Even worse, the object could break teeth which in turn could cause choking. Both of which are much more serious than a bitten tongue.
And definitely never ever put your fingers into someone’s mouth. Chances are they will bite them, maybe totally amputating them or at the very least causing you a lot of pain.
Suffering from frostbite (frozen skin/tissue) can be very painful and, in extreme cases, lead to amputations if the tissue dies.
It is very common to try and rub frozen body parts to warm them up. If you do this with very mild frostbite there will be little damage. However, if tissue is actually frozen, rubbing will damage the skin.
When water in the tissue freezes, because of frostbite, it expands and forms tiny crystals in the skin cells. Rubbing the skin together will cause these tiny water crystals to literally make small cuts in the skin from the inside.
The best thing to do is to warm up those body parts by going inside where it’s warm or placing them on another body part that is warm (e.g. underarms). In severe cases you should seek medical help as soon as you can.
Suffering a bone or joint injury is very painful. And there is a myth out there that you should put heat on these types of injuries. However, the best solution is a cold pack for about 20 minutes every hour.
Heat will cause more blood, and other injury related chemicals, to rush to the area. This will increase the swelling, which will make recovery take much longer, and can also lead to more scar tissue later on.
Heat should only ever be applied by a trained therapist, for the purpose of therapy, no sooner than 3 days after the injury. And of course the injury needs to be assessed for proper treatment.
Similarly, do not try and walk-off, or shake-off, such injuries. You can’t heal broken bones or torn ligaments by bouncing around on a soccer field.
It is almost a gut reaction to give a poison victim something to drink, e.g. water or milk. What most people don’t realize is that many common poisons will react more when mixed with water, milk, or other liquids.
Another common misconception is to induce vomiting. However, if the poison was corrosive, not only did it burn the esophagus on the way down, it will now burn on the way up. And, the poison may now also be inhaled by the lungs which can be damaged very easily.
Although it sounds a bit strange, corrosive substances will do less harm in the stomach, as it is lined with a protective layer. The best thing to do is call the poison center or refer to the container itself for the proper first aid treatment. If the victim is unconscious, in severe pain, or having trouble breathing, call paramedics right away.
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