“What-If?” Presents Responding to a Medical Emergency

“What-if?”, those worrisome words, arrive in the conscious, spinning topics in our mind, from safety and financial security to loved ones and pet health.  Asking, “What can I do?” leads to a proactive decision to invest time in the ultimate insurance policy—valuable life skills comprising security, shelter, food, water, and medical care! In any emergency, from extreme weather to a personal disaster, you have the power to take charge of your fate by making plans and taking action!  

The statistic is accurate; most accidents occur within five miles of the home.  Unknowingly, you have the skillsets and, most likely, the tools to help a person who needs First Aid. Whether you know the precise technique or not, doing something will certainly help a child, spouse, parent, friend, or stranger—even if you feel tremors of nervousness.  It’s time to know how to respond in an emergency. 

Stopping a Bleed Quickly

The sight of blood often results in one particular emotion, panic; however, your smile or soft words, even singing, offer healing comfort; therefore, try to remain calm!  The first action is to directly apply pressure with a clean cloth, whatever you have at the moment, whether it’s a kitchen towel, paper towel, or bandage. Do not remove the application even if blood saturates; instead, leave it in place and continue applying extra layers until the blood clots, stemming the blood flow. If the injury is on the leg or arm, elevate the limb above the heart. After five minutes of firm, steady pressure, and the bleeding has ceased, it’s time to remove the dressing and clean the wound.  

In situations of continued blood flow, the following household items will help.   

  • Antiperspirant:  If containing the ingredient aluminum, apply the stick directly to the cut or smear with a cotton ball. 
  • Black or Cayenne Pepper:  Yes, it stings, but it’s an effective solution.  Sprinkle on the cut; then, wash with water.   
  • Cornstarch, Flour, or Sugar:  Sprinkle directly on the wound and rinse with water. 
  • Mouth Wash:  As a disinfectant, mouth wash works well! 
  • Petroleum Jelly or Lip Balm:  The waxy texture offers a seal to form a clot.
  • Running Water:  A viable solution to stop the bleed while cleaning the wound. 
  • Witch Hazel:  Another two-in-one remedy- while causing the blood vessels to constrict, it aids pain and reduces swelling.  Pour directly over the cut and dab. 

After ten minutes, use a tourniquet until help arrives! 

Addressing Burns

While caring for the skin may be your first act, ensure the individual is protected from further harm; turn off power sources or remove kettles or pots.  And, while clothing may be wet, don’t try to remove the shirt or pants just yet.  Start by holding the area under cool, not cold, running water for at least ten minutes.  A cold pack or wet cloth will result in the same outcome, to aid against pain and swelling.  

  • Try to leave blisters alone. If they break, clean with water and apply an antibiotic ointment.  
  • Burns require a cooling agent, such as aloe vera or cocoa butter, preventing drying and promoting relief. 
  • Cover loosely with a bandage.
  • Provide an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium.   


Immobilization is the first action.  Broken bones could potentially sever a blood vessel or nerve.  Never underestimate a break.  Until medical care can determine the diagnosis, treat the situation as a fracture.  You’ll need splints and plenty of bandages.  Don’t hesitate to use the body to protect the bones and prevent movement.  

Two Rules: 

  1. Never apply a bandage DIRECTLY OVER a fracture. 
  2. Swelling is likely to happen; therefore, bandages need to be loose enough for regular blood circulation.  Consider using padding, such as towels or a pillow, to help support limbs in place.  

Injuries occur in seconds.  Your fast action and application can result in a less severe diagnosis.  Knowing a few basic techniques will help; however, consider expanding your knowledge to learn how to administer the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR, or recognize the symptoms of stroke, heart attack, and heatstroke.  Every effort can help a life, even your own.  

Next Month:  The MacGyver Plan


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