5 Common First Aid Myths and Mistakes

First aid is full of myths and ‘old wives tales’. In this post we bust five common first aid myths and mistakes!

First aid myth 1: Alcohol rubs to reduce fever

There’s a very common misconception about the idea that alcohol rubs can treat fever. Alcohol reduces the temperature of the skin because it dries very fast, however this can be dangerous as it works very quickly and can cause overcooling and shivering. In addition the skin can absorb the alcohol, causing alcohol poisoning, especially in younger children. 

Removing excessive clothing and using simple over the counter anti-pyretics (fever reducing drugs) is a much more effective method of reducing a child’s temperature.

First aid myth 2: Sucking the venom out of a snake biteFirst aid snake bite

This is possibly one of the most dangerous first aid myths you can find on the internet. Some snake bite kits that can be bought from the drug store also instruct the users to create a small cut between the bite marks. This actually increases the risk of infection. Keep in mind that anti-venom is the only safe and correct way to treat a snake bite.

You can read more about first aid for snake bites on our blog. 

First aid myth 3: Urinating on a jellyfish sting

Here’s another internet myth. Urinating on jellyfish stings is an old concept that is still quite controversial. The known fact is that urine works because of its acidity. However, not all people have acidic urine, thus making urine very event-dependable.

If you do get stung by a jellyfish, get out of the water as quickly as possible in order to avoid further exposure to the jellyfish and try to gently rinse the wound with seawater. An ice pack can be used to reduce swelling and inflammation.

First aid myth 4: Tilting your head backwards when having a nosebleedFirst Aid for a Nosebleed

Also known as epistaxis, nosebleed can be caused by several factors. Tilting your head backwards will only cause the blood to flow down your throat and reach your stomach or your windpipe. Either way, it could cause you more trouble because the blood could irritate the stomach and cause vomiting, or it could go through your windpipe and create a blockage. What you want to do is tilt your head forward and pinch your nose for about a minimum of 10 minutes

You can read more about first aid for nosebleeds on our blog. 

First aid myth 5: Rub your eye when you get a foreign substance in it.

The myth here is that tears caused by rubbing will wash out the foreign substance. In fact, rubbing your eyes could cause damage the eye and cause scratches or abrasions. Instead of rubbing your eyes, the correct thing to do is to try and rinse it with clean running water. If this doesn’t work, you should cover your eye with a loose bandage and seek medical assistance. 

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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