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Avoid These Unsafe Emergency First Aid Practices

Armen Hareyan's picture
First Aid

What actions should you take when a friend aid is needed in an emergency situation. What actions you should not take and avoid? Dr. Ademola Orolu, a Consultant Family Physician from Nigeria explains.


A few times in emergency situations witnesses of accidents do more harm to the victim unknowingly then provide truly helpful first aid. Below you can find two common cases.

1. Convulsions
A few victims have hard objects stuck between their teeth to prevent clenching. There is the fear that clenching of teeth kills. It's false. Teeth have been broken during forceful insertion of the spoons and the likes. The broken tooth can be aspirated into the airway causing secondary damage which could be fatal. Tongue can also be lacerated causing overt or concealed bleeding which also can be aspirated.

When someone convulses, lie them on the side and lift the chin up to ensure airway is open - recovery position. Usually, the convulsion stops on its own. While doing this one or two persons may ensure the victim doesn't sustain more injuries from the jerks. As soon as convulsion stops, go to the hospital for proper care.

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2. Accidental ingestion of dangerous substances
Common among children or during suicidal attempts, bleach, soap, shaving powder, kerosene, may be ingested. The first aider usually gives liquids - palm oil, milk, paw paw water etc - with the intention to neutralize the toxin and/or induce vomiting. This induction of vomiting can kill faster if the substances (toxin and first aid liquid) get aspirated into the airway. The individual may just develop sudden respiratory arrest and die if no proper resuscitation is done.

In accidental ingestion, give Activated Charcoal. It's in powder form. It prevents absorption of the poisonous substance through the stomach and intestines. It's use is most effective in first two hours after ingestion of the toxin. Please keep a tin of Activated Charcoal at home.

In any emergency situation, if you are not sure of the right thing to do, CALL FOR HELP first.

Above all, do no harm.

Reference: The Family Doctors Group