First Aid

Basic first aid knowledge can help us deal with minor injuries to ensure they don’t become worse and, in more serious cases, help us keep the patient safer until a medical professional can take over.

  • What can I do to treat cuts and scrapes?
  • What can I do to treat burns?
  • What can I do if someone breaks a bone?
  • What can I do if someone goes into shock?
  • What items should I include in my first aid kit?

What can I do to treat cuts and scrapes?

  • For minor cuts, scratches and scrapes (grazes):
  • Make sure your hands are clean and dry.
  • Cover any cuts on your own hands.
  • Clean the affected area with running water.
  • Pat the area dry using a sterile dressing or lint-free cloth.
  • Raise the affected area above the heart if possible.
  • Temporarily cover the cut to clean around it with soap and water.
  • Pat the surrounding skin dry.
  • Cover the affected area completely with a bandage or a sterile dressing.
  • Treat the person for shock if necessary.

What can I do to treat burns?

Treat burns and scalds (hot water burns) as soon as possible to limit skin damage.

This is especially critical for children, whose skin burns in a quarter of the time it takes for an adult’s skin to burn.

To treat minor burns:

  • Remove clothing or jewelry near the affected area, unless it is stuck to the area.
  • Cool the area with cool or lukewarm water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Do not use lotions, ointments or creams.
  • Do not break any blisters.
  • Cover the area with a bandage or non-adhesive sterile dressing.
  • Treat the person for shock.
  • Treat the pain with a pain medication such as ibuprofen.
  • If the burn is deep and/or large, go immediately to the nearest emergency department for further attention.

What can I do if someone breaks a bone?

Look for symptoms such as swelling around the affected area, lack of mobility or an unnatural range of movement and a grating noise or feeling.

To treat a broken bone:

  • Support the injured area.
  • Immobilize it to prevent further damage.
  • Call 9-1-1.
  • Treat the person for shock.

What can I do if someone goes into shock?

A life threatening condition, shock happens when organs such as the heart and brain are deprived of oxygen due to a blood circulation problem.

Symptoms include:

  • Quick, shallow breathing
  • Pale face and cold, clammy skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Sighing and yawning
  • Unconsciousness (in extreme cases)


To treat shock:

  • Treat the injury that caused it.
  • Lay the person down, keeping the head low and the legs raised and supported.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you haven’t already done so.
  • Make the person comfortable:
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Cover the person with a blanket or coat
  • Comfort and reassure the person
  • Check the person’s breathing and pulse frequently

What items should I include in my basic first aid kit?

Ideally, keep kits in various places such as the home, garage, car, cottage and boat and in your carry-on bag when travelling.

Store each kit in a dry place, and replace used and outdated contents regularly.

Canadian Red Cross recommendations for a first aid kit include items such as the following:

  • Emergency phone numbers for your local emergency department and poison control centre and your personal medical professionals
  • Home and office numbers for family members, friends and neighbours who can help
  • Antiseptic wipes and/or soap
  • Sterile gauze pads (dressings) in various sizes for wound treatment
  • Roll and triangular bandages to hold pads in place and to make an arm sling
  • Medical adhesive tape to hold the pads and bandages in place
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Instant ice packs
  • Disposable non-latex gloves, such as examination gloves
  • Pencil and pad
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries for the flashlight, in a separate bag
  • Emergency blanket
  • Eye patches
  • Thermometer
  • Masks
  • Coins for pay phone and parking areas
  • First aid manual


Talk with one of our pharmacists or your medical professional for more information.

This health information material was sourced from the Canadian Red Cross (, St. John Ambulance – United Kingdom (, the National Health Service ( and the Government of Canada ( It is intended for information purposes only and should not be used in place of first aid training or in place of consultation with a health care professional. This pharmacy and participating vendors and/or agencies are not responsible for errors, omissions, and/or inconsistencies with respect to the information contained in this material and do not accept any liability whatsoever for reliance by the reader on the information contained herein.