7 Life-Saving Skills Everyone Should Know
How to Perform CPR
When you think “life-saving skills,” the first thing that probably comes to mind is CPR, the technique that could make all the difference for someone who has collapsed and is under cardiac arrest. It’s always best to take a class, so you know the proper procedures and have practiced them beforehand, but even without official training you could save a life if no one else is around with more CPR experience. Solely watching a one-minute instruction video about CPR could make you a better life-saver.
“Hands-only” CPR can be done for anyone (except newborns) whose heart has stopped beating. With this technique, also known as “compression-only” CPR, you press down about 2 inches deep on the chest at a rate of about 100 times per minute until the paramedics arrive—and skip the giving breath part. According to one medical review examiner, singing the BeeGees’ song “Stayin’ Alive” will help you keep that tempo.
What to Do If Someone May Be Having a Heart Attack
It’s important to know the common signs of heart attacks and what you can do to help a person going through it. Sometimes the symptoms are obviously cardiac arrest (which would require CPR, above), and at other times they’re not so dramatic and could just seem like heartburn. After calling for help, if the person is over the age of 16 and confirms he/she isn’t allergic to aspirin—and isn’t taking any medications that could interact with it—offer a tablet of aspirin, which could reduce damage to the heart.
How to Help Someone Who Is Choking
You should learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver when the person’s airway is blocked by food or another object. Here is a video demonstrating and it is useful to memorize it. Note: before doing the abdominal thrusts, give five blows to the person’s back with the heel of your hand. There are different techniques for children and infants, whose small tracheas and propensity to swallow random objects put the fear of choking into every parent.
How to Save Someone Who’s Drowning
Drowning is one of the most common causes of accidental death, especially among children. If you’re not a skilled swimmer who knows how to swim with a possibly flailing person, the most important thing to know is that swimming out to the person should be the last resort.
- Reach: If the person is near the edge of a pool or dock, lie flat on the ground and try to reach the person. Use a tree branch, oar, towel, or shepherd’s hook to lengthen your reach. If you have to, get in the water and hold onto the pool edge or dock while trying to reach the person
- Throw: Throw a safety ring, if available
- Row: Get a boat (again, if one’s available)
- Go: Swim out as the last resort. Bring a rescue safety ring, towel, or shirt with you so you can tow the person in.
Be careful swimming out to save someone from drowning. Often times, this leads to the rescuer drowning, too, because the person drowning will clamp on and drag them both under. Always approach them from behind and if they clamp on, just go under and they’ll generally let you go.
How to Treat Bleeding
There are different kinds of bleeding, from a minor scrape to the most dangerous type, arterial bleeding. In either case, your goal is to stop the bleeding as soon as possible. After washing your hands and putting on gloves (if available; a clean plastic bag could suffice), you should:
- Have the person lie down and cover him or her with a blanket. Elevate the site of bleeding.
- Remove any obvious dirt or debris from the wound, but leave any large or deeply embedded objects.
- Apply continuous pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for at least 20 minutes without looking to see if the bleeding has stopped.
- Add more gauze if you need to.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop, apply pressure to the artery. Pressure points of the arm are on the inside of the arm just above the elbow and just below the armpit. Pressure points of the leg are just behind the knee and in the groin. Squeeze the main artery in these areas against the bone. Keep your fingers flat. With your other hand, continue to exert pressure on the wound itself.
- Leave the bandages in place and immobilize the injured body part once the bleeding has stopped.
How to Treat a Burn
Immediately after a burn, run cool tap water over the skin for 10-20 minutes. Then, cool the skin with a moist compress. Don’t put ice, butter or anything else directly on the burned skin. Clean the skin gently with mild soap and tap water. Take medicine for pain. Simple burns involving only the very surface of the skin do not need dressings.
How to Carry Someone Heavier Than You
Usually it’s best to leave a person who’s hurt where they are until medical help comes. You should never move a person who might have a head, neck, or spinal injury. In other cases, however, you might need to move someone to a safer location. If you’re not very strong or that person is heavier than you, here’s how to lift that person without hurting yourself in the process:
- With the person facing you, take the person’s arm and pull it over your shoulder
- Kneel down or crouch down so the person’s middle is against your shoulder
- Thrust up with your legs and hips to stand. Don’t lean forward or you’ll hurt your back.
- The person will now be hung over your shoulder and you can walk around.
WikiHow offers illustrated steps. It also recommends trying this on small people or children first.
Hopefully you’ll never need to put any of these life-saving tips into play, but whether you have a first aid kit on you or not, at least you’ll know what to do just in case.Hopefully you’ll never need to put any of these life-saving tips into play, but whether you have a first aid kit on you or not, at least you’ll know what to do just in case.