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.
- 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
- Safety pins
- Instant ice packs
- Disposable non-latex gloves, such as examination gloves
- Pencil and pad
- Extra batteries for the flashlight, in a separate bag
- Emergency blanket
- Eye patches
- Coins for pay phone and parking areas
- First aid manual
Talk with one of our pharmacists or your medical professional for more information.