What are the Do’s and Don’ts of First Aid?

The Dos and Don'ts of First Aid

The do’s and don’ts of first aid depend on the injury, but general tips are:

  • Do reassure the victim that you are a qualified first aider, and that they are in safe hands
  • Do call 999 right away if the injury is really serious
  • Don’t move the victim unless it is absolutely necessary[1]
  • Do visually and verbally assess the injured person
  • Do practice good personal hygiene
  • Don’t forget to remove external hazards
  • Do try and take the pain off the patient’s mind by talking to them

Do’s and Don’ts for Treating Specific Injuries

First aid do’s and don’ts cover all injuries, including open wounds, bone fractures, unconscious persons and head-knocks.

Open Wounds

  1. Do clean the wound with antiseptic wipes to prevent infection
  2. Don’t come into direct contact with someone else’s blood
  3. Do apply clean bandages to the wound
  4. Don’t put force onto an object embedded inside the wound[2]
  5. Do elevate the body part
  6. Don’t forget to wash your hands before doing anything
  7. Do call 999 if the wound won’t stop bleeding
  8. Do wear gloves

Even the smallest cuts can manifest into something much more threatening if it becomes infected. As a result, practicing good personal hygiene is the most important thing to do in this situation. First aiders should call the emergency services if a wound has been created from an animal, or if the victim hasn’t had a recent tetanus injection.

Bone Fractures

  1. Do treat for symptoms of shock i.e. make them comfortable
  2. Don’t move the broken body part
  3. Do pad the body part with something soft, for comfort
  4. Do cover any protrusion with a bandage to stop bleeding
  5. Don’t attempt to straighten the broken body part
  6. Do look for signs of deformed body parts
  7. Do call 999 if there is a bone protruding out of the body

Diagnosing a fracture can be difficult, so look for the telling signs. They include not being able to move a body part, swelling, and shock. You should call 999 immediately if you think there is a fracture in the spine or neck.

Unconscious Persons

  1. Do check vital signs of life, or the ABCs (airways, breathing, circulation)
  2. Don’t waste time
  3. Do call 999
  4. Do perform CPR on a person showing no signs of breathing nor circulation
  5. Don’t perform CPR on someone who is breathing
  6. Don’t confuse adult-safe CPR with child-safe procedures
  7. Do use a defibrillator if there is no heartbeat

There are fundamental differences between CPR used for children and adults. This is because “a child’s bones are more likely to bend… and their airways are narrower”.[3] Differences include chest compressions with two fingers instead of two hands. In addition, children have smaller chests, so you do not have to push as far down. It is very dangerous to confuse the two and perform adult-safe procedures on a child.

Head Knocks

  1. Do monitor the patient for behaviour changes
  2. Do give the patient ice to apply to the area of impact
  3. Don’t forget to constantly monitor the person for signs of concussion
  4. Do keep the victim still, to prevent pain from a potential neck or spine injury
  5. Do call 999 if the person vomits or becomes increasingly unresponsive

Head knocks can quickly turn into serious injuries, especially if there is a bleed. For this reason, constant monitoring of the victim is essential. An ambulance should be called immediately if someone has lost consciousness because of a head impact.

The do’s and don’ts of first aid are an important reminder for people faced with all types of situation. To become a first aider, you need to complete first aid training.

You can view our online first aid courses here.

[1] http://wtcabc.org/safety/wtc/First-aidTraining.pdf

[2] https://www.nowtolove.co.nz/health/body/the-dos-and-donts-of-basic-first-aid-14353

[3] https://www.cprcertified.com/blog/what-are-the-differences-between-infant-child-and-adult-cpr