Top Ten First Aid Myths

  • Burns “Put butter/antiseptic cream on it”.
    Never put butter/antiseptic cream on a burn. Instead, cool the burn under cool running water for at least 20 minutes to stop the burning and relieve the pain. If cold water is not available, use another cold, harmless liquid such as milk. Apply a non-fluffy dressing.
  • Nose bleeds “Hold the casualty’s head back and pinch the bridge of the nose“.
    Treat nose bleeds by sitting the casualty down with the head tilted forward and pinch the fleshy part of the nostrils together for 20 minutes. Remember to tell them to breathe through the mouth and spit any blood into a bowl or tissue.
  • Poisoning “Make the casualty vomit”.
    Never induce vomiting – it could burn or block the airway. Try to find out what has been swallowed and how much and seek professional medical advice.
  • Choking Stick your fingers down the casualty’s throat”.
    Never stick your fingers down someone’s throat – you could cause further obstruction or cause the airway to swell. Start by bending the casualty forward from the waist and give 5 sharp back blows between the shoulder blades, using the heel of your hand.*
  • Epilepsy “If someone is having a seizure, put something in their mouth so they don’t swallow their tongue”.
    Never put anything in someone’s mouth during a seizure. They may bite their tongue but it is not possible to swallow it!  Your priority is to keep them safe until professional medical help arrives if required.
  • Cardiac Arrest “Only people who have been trained can use a defibrillator on someone.”  Anyone can use one. There are clear instructions on how to attach the defibrillator pads. It then assesses the heart rhythm and will only instruct you to deliver a shock if it’s needed.
  • Heart Attack “If someone is having a heart attack, ask them to cough”There is no medical evidence to support ‘coughing’ as a way to manage a heart attack. If you suspect a heart attack call 999, this is a medical emergency. Check out our blog on Heart Attack here or see what the British Heart Foundation say here. 
  • The ambulance will be here in a minute. Not if you’ve only just called it, it won’t. In London, for example, the target response-time for life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest is 7 minutes. If no one has started CPR within this time the casualty is unlikely to survive and if they do they are likely to have brain damage.
  • Fainting “Put their head between their legs”. They may simply fall forwards, cas=using further injury! Instead, lie the casualty down and raise their legs to increase blood flow to the brain.
  • Jellyfish Sting “Urinating on a jellyfish sting is the best treatment” In reality, urinating on a jellyfish sting does not stop the pain and may actually cause the sea creature’s nematocysts to inject even more venom into its victim. Rinsing with vinegar and applying heat have been shown to help relieve pain and the spread of venom.
Nothing in this site should be construed as personal advice or diagnosis, and must not be used in this manner. The information provided about conditions is general in nature. This information does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side-effects, or interactions of medicines, or medical procedures. The information in this site should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment.