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Life-saving skills can help others and yourself. It's a dangerous world, and it is essential to be aware of that. Many threats lurk around us, and basic knowledge, practical judgment, and staying calm can be a powerful differentiator for those who want to cope with emergencies successfully. Whether your loved one or a stranger is having an emergency, it's up to you to step up to the plate and display your life-emergency coping skills. Life-saving skills can make a difference between life and death.
Before trying to cope with an emergency, the first thing you should do is call for help and dial 911. While waiting for help, there are specific steps you can take to help the person. While helping others, be sure to protect yourself, too. It's like a plane ride, where you're told that in the event of an emergency, you should secure your air mask first, before helping others. Life-saving skills are as much about helping others as they are about helping the society, but remember you cannot help others if you cannot look after yourself.
So, without further ado, let's dive deeper into how essential life-saving skills are crucial and which of these skills you should work on so that you are not caught unawares when facing an emergency.
Life-Saving Skills You Should Know
#1 CPR/ Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR methods have changed somewhat across the years, but three necessary CPR actions are to check for unresponsiveness and call 911, begin chest compressions if the victim has trouble breathing, and tilt his/her head back. Revive the victim with two 1-second breaths through his/her mouth. The pattern covers thirty chest compressions, then two breaths and the pattern continues till the victim becomes conscious and breathes again or help reaches you.
When you think of life-saving skills, this is probably the first one to come to your mind. CPR can be used for individuals who have collapsed or are under cardiac arrest. It is best to take a class, so proper procedures are practiced beforehand, and without official training, you could still save a life even if no one qualified to help is around. Watching an instruction video on CPR could also help.
Hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation can be carried out for all individuals, expect newborn infants whose hearts have stopped beating, as per the AHA/American Heart Association. Mayo Clinic has also supported the procedure. With this technique, also called compression-only CPR, you need to press down about two inches deep on the chest at about 100 times in 60 seconds till paramedics arrive and skip the breathing part. So, such life-saving skills can be really effective in putting a stop to life-threatening conditions.
#2 Heimlich Maneuver
When an adult is choking and has difficulty breathing, the Heimlich procedure is suitable for dislodging the foreign body that is triggering the choking response. The Heimlich Institute suggests this technique: approach the victim from behind and wrap your arms around the back of the victim. Form the first below the victim's ribcage but above the belly button. Grasp the fist with one hand and press into the abdomen of the victim, using a quick upper thrust. Continue this process until the foreign object is dislodged. For infant or child victims, this maneuver must be adapted; the above procedure is only for adult victims.
Why does this maneuver work only for adults? Quite merely, specific medical emergencies can be the result of flawed genetics or an unhealthy lifestyle. Choking results from obstructed windpipe blocked by objects such as food. Much like other emergencies, comprehending the signs of choking is essential for the well-being of victims. Choking is extremely dangerous with each passing minute.
If a person is choking, yet he/she can talk, don't perform the Heimlich maneuver as intense coughing can dislodge the object from the throat. In case the choking victim is conscious, but cannot talk, call 911 and begin abdominal thrusts or back blows. If efforts to perform the maneuver are ineffective, the victim loses consciousness, commence with CPR till medics arrive. Use such life-saving skills in the event of emergencies and watch out for issues and problems.
#3 Warding Off Hypothermia
Hypothermia refers to a condition where the core temperature of the body falls to a point where normal cerebral and muscular functions are impaired.
Symptoms like uncontrollable shivering characterize this condition, loss of coordination, drowsiness, labored breathing, or a slowed heart rate. Hypothermia is treated by bringing the victim out of the cold temperature, removing wet clothing, and wrapping them in blankets or sleeping bags.
Additionally, warm fluids without any alcohol or caffeine content can help in temperature stabilization. Use these life-saving skills to help those facing cold, freezing temperatures, and hypothermic reactions.
#4 Using the AED
AED/Automated External Defibrillators are found everywhere these days – schools, businesses, and malls. Proper usage of the device can save lives if someone is experiencing cardiac arrhythmias triggering a cardiac arrest. Proper training is essential for using an AED. For certification, organizations like the Red Cross can help. AEDs are pairs of electric paddles used to restart the heart post a cardiac arrest by doctors. This device improves the survival rate of victims and works well if one has received proper training. Most public places, such as restaurants, stores, malls, and businesses, have an AED in place. Most CPR training courses also offer AED classes.
If proper usage of AED is carried out within three minutes of cardiac arrest, it raises the victim’s chance of survival by 70%. Therefore, the use of such life-saving skills is critical.
The victim should be checked before using the AED. He or she should have lost consciousness.
While using an AED, moving the patient to a dry area is essential. Further, the victim's chest needs to be completely dry, and metallic objects are removed from the body. By powering the AED and following step-by-step instructions and prompts until paramedics arrive, you can save the life of the victim.
During this emergency procedure, make sure you get a bystander also to call 911.
Most of the 1000 Americans who succumb to a heart attack die as they don't get the treatment they need – which is an electric shock to the heart – quickly enough.
Heart shock devices were once found in ambulances or hospitals. Now they can even be found in casinos, airports, fitness centers, and movie theaters. These public versions are so easy to use and are vital for home use, given that 3 in 4 cardiac arrests occur at home.
The chances of surviving cardiac arrests fall by about 10 percent for every minute the heart stays in ventricular fibrillation. Shocking the heart back into normal rhythm within two minutes improves chances of survival by 80%. Delivering this shock within seven minutes (average time taken for the ER team to arrive), and the odds fall to 30%. While calling 911 is the right thing to do, keep an AED device nearby. Another useful technique to use in the event of a cardiac arrest, CPR keeps the blood flowing to the brain besides other vital organs. A home AED restores healthy heart rhythm in critical minutes.
Using a prescription of a doctor and USD 2.5 thousand, you can easily purchase a genuine AED device.
Some studies have found the benefits of acquiring life-saving skills to save patients. A JAMA study in 2002 showed 11 in 18 individuals collapsing due to ventricular fibrillation over the 2-period in Chicago’s three airports were revived using AED devices.
A home defibrillation device can help in survival from a sudden cardiac arrest, unstable angina, severe heart failure, or other kinds of heart disease.
Training can help you to use the AED with confidence and speed. It also helps in clarifying how to use the AED with those wearing an implanted pacemaker or medication or those with thick hair growth on the chest.
The American Heart Association/AHA has developed a 3.5-hour course called HeartSaver AED for lay rescuers and first responders. Such courses on life-saving skills can help you in diverse ways.
#5 Aspirin for Strokes and Heart Attacks
Along with natural relief from pain, aspirin is US-FDA recommended to treat mini-strokes and heart attacks. Aspirin works as a blood-thinning and anti-inflammatory medicine, which helps blood get through the large clot formations linked to a heart attack. So after calling 911, administer a standard 325 mg aspirin dose to the cardiac victim. Be sure to check that aspirin does not interact negatively with other medicines and if aspirin is provided to a stranger, the state's Good Samaritan laws are to be reviewed, so you don't violate any regulations.
#6 Escape From a Sinking Car
10% of all the drowning deaths are attributed to being stuck and unable to escape from a car submerging into the water. One only gets a second or two to try and open the door before the vehicle sinks underwater. If this does not work, try to open the window. Even if there is not adequate room to exit through the window, doing so will help you. This action is right because once enough water has entered the car for equalizing the pressure, the door can be easily opened and you can swim to safety. Try to stay calm and follow these procedures.
#7 Escaping a Burning Building
Have an escape plan for every building you enter. Remember that each hotel room, office, or government building also has publicly posted maps pinpoint emergency exits. If there is a fire, immediately check the doorknob or door to see if it feels hot before attempting to open the door. Never opt for an elevator during a fire emergency. It could get stuck or take you to a flame-engulfed floor. Additionally, you may have to crawl to avoid the inhalation of smoke, which is deadlier than the fire itself. In pre-school itself, fire and earthquake safety drills form a part of the routine.
Ideally, industrial and public buildings should have fire alarms and adequate sprinkler systems, as unpredictable fire can take place at almost any time. To protect yourself from the fire, you need to understand what fuels and feeds it. Essentially, the fire burns oxygen, which is essential for sustaining life. Lack of oxygen in humans leads to lower stamina, less coordination, and even death.
In the event of an emergency, primary and alternative routes for exiting the burning building are a must. The gases are harmful and are caused by fire engulfing the building ceiling, so crawl to the safest exit. Use a wet cloth across your mouth and cover your eyes with protective gear. For those exiting using a window, smashing the pane's bottom corner with a hard object and cushion can serve to protect the hand. Cushioning the window that is broken with a blanket or pillow for a safe exit is also desirable. For those exiting through a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the hinges, knobs and the bulk of the door. If the areas are more refreshing to touch, brace your shoulder against the door and open it quickly to prevent a surge of pressure bounding the door open.
#8 Combat Severe Allergies
If an individual is having a severe allergic reaction, call 911 at once. Try to check then if the response was ever observed before and if there is an EpiPen (spring-loaded shot of epinephrine). If they do, they may need help in administering the shot. Be sure to read the instructions printed on the EpiPen's outside. Also, get ready to administer CPR, should the need arise.
#9 Deal With a Snakebite
If a possibly venomous snake has bitten you, get away from the reptile. Then remain calm and immobilize the bitten area to slow the poison from spreading to your body. Call 911 and remove any metallic jewelry before swelling commences. Position yourself in such a way so that the bitten part is below the heart. Don't opt for a tourniquet, applying ice or cutting the wound to suck out the poison. Don't try to capture a snake, but try to identify it and heed the details like its size and coloration.
#10 Treat Shock
The body goes into a shock when the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen — a state of anoxia results. Victims of trauma may feel faint, disoriented or dizzy and look pale. The shock takes place to post a severe loss of fluid and blood, or post-infection, illness or allergic reaction, or even an accident.
For treating the shock, make the victim lie on the back with feet elevated. Cover the person with a blanket and ensure they remain warm. Don’t let the victim drink anything, as this can cause choking. Move the person on their side if there is bleeding or vomiting from the mouth.
#11 Know the Signs of a Stroke
While strokes are linked to older people, anyone can get a stroke, even younger people. A stroke results from a blood clotting or blockage in the delicate veins bringing blood to your brain. When a person experiences a stroke, every second count, and you have to react swiftly.
Signs of a stroke include dizziness, disorientation, severe headaches, numbness or sudden drooping on one side of your body. You may also experience vision difficulties in one or both the eyes and pain walking. The symptoms can be immediate or subtle, gradual, or dramatic. To tell if the person is having a stroke, ask them to smile and see if a part of the face droops. Ask them to raise their arms and see if the arms are uneven.
Enlarge the veins a little by giving the victim aspirin while waiting for the ambulance. It is vital to be sure the person does not have an allergy or is not on a medication that responds negatively to aspirin in time.
Health emergencies can be deadly, but if you know what to do and react fast, you can prevent harmful consequences for the victim and even save his or her life. These simple techniques provide life-saving care to victims of heart diseases.
With 1 in 7 deaths each year happening in the US because of heart disease, it is critical to know common signs of heart attacks and what you can do to help individuals going through it. Sometimes, symptoms are apparent, as in the case of cardiac arrest, which requires CPR, and at other times, there can be heartburn. Once you have called for help, if the person is aged 16 or above, confirm that he or she is not sensitive to aspirin.
Additionally, the victim should not be taking medicines that react with aspirin. Close to 88% of all cardiac arrests take place at home, not healthcare facilities like hospitals or close to healthcare professionals. A vast percentage of cardiac arrest patients appear 100% normal before the attack.
Moreover, it takes anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes on average for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of an emergency, depending on the country you are in.
It takes just 4 minutes for brain death to commence after cardiac arrest, with a chance of survival plunging downward for every minute the victim does not receive care. Research shows bystander CPR can raise the victim’s chance of survival by 300%. However, only 32% of cardiac arrest patients receive CPR on average from a bystander.
#12 Save Individuals from Drowning
As per the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, drowning is the third prominent cause of unintentional injury. If active drowning takes place when lifeguards are on duty, you need to call for help. In the event of a trained professional not being available, call 911 at once. When a person is drowning, they lack oxygen to shout for help to check the victim's submerging head and flailing arms to detect he or she is drowning.
When larger bodies of water, like seas or oceans, rather than your neighborhood pool are involved, there's greater complexity in terms of saving the victim. More training and knowledge of life-saving procedures are needed on account of harsher conditions like stronger currents and farther distances. For necessary drowning rescue, first, evaluate if the person is drowning. If the victim is now out of reach, try throwing a shepherd's crook or a ring buoy — Swim freestyle to individuals with a flotation device and a towel or t-shirt for towing these in.
Also, maintain a safe distance from victims because they can pull you underwater while trying to stay afloat. If this happens, remain calm and pull away by submerging yourself underwater, till the victim releases you. Then, use the flotation device to help the drowning person to stay afloat.
Once the victim is back on dry land, check their vital signs to see if they are breathing normally. If they are unconscious, initiate CPR until help arrives.
Drowning remains a popular cause of accidental death, mostly among children. If you are not a skilled swimmer knowing how to swim with a flailing person, opt for a flotation device to steady the both of you. Always attempt a rescue with a flotation device, when possible.
Family Doctor’s mnemonic Reach, Throw, Row, Go is the key to saving people from drowning, especially when one is not a skilled swimmer.
Reach stands for when the person is near the edge of the dock or pool. Lie flat straight on the ground and try to reach the person. You can even use a branch, towel, oar or shepherd's hook to lengthen the reach. Get water and hold onto the pool edge or dock while attempting to reach the person.
The Throw part centers around throwing a safety ring, when available. Row or get to a boat if one is available. Going or swimming in to save the person is the next step if all else fails. Carry a rescue safety ring, or even a towel or shirt to tow the victim in.
#13 How to Treat Bleeding
One never knows when an emergency could strike, and you'd be called in to deliver emergency care to individuals in need of help. If you are a parent or a caregiver of a child or an adult, it is critical to be prepared. Preparation can make the difference between life and death for injured individuals.
For stopping heavy bleeding, always consider the following. Much like ice does not form on a flowing river, blood does not automatically coagulate when flowing freely. Applying the pressure to the wound, with sterile gauze, and a towel or T-shirt will work best. Elevate the wound above the victim's heart if possible.
Remember that if someone is heavy bleeding, they will not be able to form a slot and they could bleed out. Stop bleeding by putting pressure on the wound, with a sterile cloth, or ripped pieces of T-shirt or anything else on hand. Raising the wounded area above the heart also stems the flow of heavy bleeding.
It's critical to understand the signs of arterial bleeding, as an arterial wound means the person could die out and bleed within minutes, even seconds. Arterial wounds pulsate upon bleeding. Additionally, the blood is bright red. Put pressure on such an injury or add cloth if the cloth used soaks through. Do not remove the weight till medics arrive.
Nosebleeds are another common occurrence in children and adults and can be caused due to trauma to the nose or irritation of the mucous membranes. Do not make a nosebleed victim raise their head or lie down, as this makes the bleeding worsen. Instead, pinch the nostrils closed for 10 minutes, allowing the nose's broken vein to close.
Thus, there are different types of bleeding, ranging from a minor scrape to a dangerous kind, arterial bleeding. The goal should always be to stop bleeding ASAP. According to Mayo Clinic, always wash your hands and put on gloves or a clean plastic bag before tending to wounds.
Ensure the person lies down and cover him or her with a blanket. Elevate the bleeding site. Remove visible debris or dirt from the wound, but don't attempt to disengage large or deeply embedded material.
Apply constant pressure using a clean cloth or bandage for twenty minutes without checking if the bleeding has ceased. Add more gauze if needed. If the bleeding does not stop,
Add more dressing if required. If the bleeding persists, you need to apply pressure to the arterial veins. Pressure points are located right behind the knee and in the groin. Squeezing the main artery against the bones, keep the pressure on the wound uniform, by keeping your fingers flat.
Have the bandages in place and immobilize the injured body parts once bleeding ceases.
#14 How to Treat Burns
Medical professionals should treat severe or extensive burns. Once the injury takes place, run cold, regular tap water over the skin for ten minutes. Cooling the surface with a moist compress, soothe the burned skin. Gently clean the skin with tap water and mild soap. Opt for acetaminophen (known by the brand name Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin/ Advil) for pain. Simple burns that are on the surface of the skin do not need a dressing.
Coldwater should be run for at least 20 minutes and can help for more than 3 hours. Clothing and jewelry should also be removed. Trying oily substances like butter on the burn will not work. Neither do yogurt, raw egg whites, tomato paste, sliced potatoes, or even cooking oil. Butter is only useful if there is hot tar on the skin.
#15 How to Deliver a Baby
The fear of every expectant mother is having to deliver a baby without any help. This delivery is not a simple task. So, here's how you can tackle this difficult situation.
Timing of the uterine contractions is essential. This situation is more likely a real delivery if contractions are 3-5 minutes apart and last 40-90 seconds, increasing in strength and frequency for a minimum of one hour. This is more so for first-time mothers.
Another critical step is to support the baby's head and body as it moves out of the mother's vagina.
Always keep the baby warm and dry. Clear out fluid from the baby's mouth if required. Tie the umbilical cord several inches away from the infant using a piece of string.
The cord need not be cut unless you are hours from the hospital. If that is the situation, cut the cord by tying it a few inches closer to the mother and cutting in between the knots.
Even if it is a breech position baby, the instructions permanently remain the same.
#16 How to Carry Someone Heavier Than You?
One of the essential life-saving skills you need to know is how to carry someone who is hurt until the medical help arrives. Never move a person when he or she is suffering head, spinal, or neck injury. Further, one needs to move to a safer location. If one is not active, or the person is more massive, you need to be able to lift the person without hurting yourself in any way.
Here's what you need to do. With the person face to face to you, take his or her arm and pull it over the shoulder. Kneel or crouch down, so the person's middle is positioned against your shoulder. Thrust up with the hips and legs to stand. Don't lean in a forward motion or the back can be hurt. The person will be hung over the shoulder, and you can walk around.
#17 Treat Heat Stroke
An essential step in the treatment of a heat stroke is recognizing the heatstroke. Feeling dry, hot, and confused on a hot day is the combination you need to watch out for. Call 911 and hydrate the victim immediately.
#18 Treat Hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar is one of those situations that don't impact everyone. But when they do, low blood sugar levels need to be tackled. Always ensure that the person suffering from hypoglycemia is offered replenishments such as sugar biscuits, electrolyte-rich coconut water, and other hydrating food and water.
#19 Using an Epi-Pen
Anaphylaxis is a distinct allergy that kills 100s of individuals each year. While the allergy can be to bees, peanuts, antibiotics, or shellfish, anaphylaxis progresses to death if not treated in time. EpiPens are the best way to stop anaphylaxis. Epi-pen and other such devices are a critical part of life-saving skills to help those suffering an allergic reaction.
Infants are built differently than teens and adults. For the under 12 month group, getting relief from the choking sensation requires careful handling.
The value of acquiring such life-saving skills cannot be emphasized enough. Saving a life is not about being just skilled. It is also about being calm in the face of an emergency. Keep a steady and balanced approach and work actively and intelligently to save another person's life. These life-saving skills will stand you in good stead as time advances.