by Tia

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, delves into some essential first-aid basics that every adult should know.

“In our day-to-day lives, we never know when an emergency might strike,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. 

“Whether it’s a minor cut, a burn, or something more serious, having basic first aid knowledge can make all the difference. According to First Aid Saves Lives Global Disaster Preparedness Center, taking early action and using suitable strategies while waiting for help to arrive may significantly minimise the severity of injuries.”

Here are a few first-aid basics every adult should know:

1. Assess the Situation

The first step in any emergency is to assess the situation calmly. Take a moment to evaluate the scene and ensure your safety before assisting others. In an unsafe situation, such as a fire or a hazardous environment, remove yourself from danger before proceeding.

2. Check for Responsiveness

If you come across someone who appears to be injured, gently shake or tap them and ask if they’re okay. If there’s no response, shout for help and immediately call emergency services. Time is of the essence in such situations, and swift action can significantly improve the chances of a positive outcome.

3. Perform CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique used to revive individuals who are unresponsive and not breathing. 

If you’re trained in CPR, begin chest compressions and rescue breaths according to the latest guidelines. If you aren’t, you should focus on chest compressions until professional help arrives. 

Here’s how to perform them effectively:

  • Position the heel of one hand on the centre of the person’s chest (between the nipples or two finger breadths above the xiphoid process).
  • Place your second hand on the first and interlock your fingers.
  • Position yourself directly over the person’s chest, with your shoulders aligned over your hands.
  • Keep your elbows straight and your arms perpendicular to the person’s chest.
  • Press firmly on the chest, compressing it at least 5 cm inwards for adults. Allow the chest to recoil between compressions.
  • Perform 100 to 120 compressions per minute (roughly equivalent to the beat of the song Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees).
  • Keep doing chest compressions until professional help arrives or the individual shows responsiveness symptoms. If you get tired, ask another individual to take turns.

4. Stop Bleeding

Stopping the bleeding is crucial in a cut or wound. Apply direct – and firm – pressure to the wound using a clean cloth or bandage. If possible, elevate the injured area above the heart to help reduce blood flow. If bleeding persists, continue applying pressure and seek medical attention promptly.

5. Treat Burns

Burns can be caused by exposure to heat, electricity, chemicals, or radiation and can vary in severity.

First-degree burns are superficial burns and affect only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis).

Second-degree burns go beyond the outer layer of the skin and affect the underlying layer (dermis). 

Third-degree burns penetrate the entire skin thickness, affecting underlying tissues, including muscles and bones.

Treatment of First-Degree Burns

  • Run cool water over the affected area for several minutes to soothe the skin and alleviate pain (don’t apply ice or butter).
  • Cover the burn with a sterile bandage or clean cloth if needed.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to assist with pain.

Treatment of Second-Degree Burns

  • Immediately immerse the affected area in cool water or apply cool compresses to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Don’t break or ‘pop’ blisters that may have formed.
  • Dress the burn with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Seek medical attention if the burn covers a large area or is located on sensitive areas such as the face or hands.

Treatment of Third-Degree Burns

  • Never try to remove clothing stuck to the burn or apply any ointments or home remedies.
  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth or sterile dressing if possible.
  • Call emergency services immediately, as third-degree burns require specialised medical care and may be life-threatening.

6. Splint Fractures

If you suspect someone has a fracture or broken bone, immobilise the injured area using a splint. Sturdy materials such as cardboard, sticks, or rolled-up magazines can be used to fashion a splint. Support the injured limb in its current position and secure the splint with bandages or tape. Remember not to attempt to realign the bone yourself, as this can cause further damage.

7. Treat Shock

Shock is a dangerous condition that may develop after a sudden sickness, accident, or traumatic incident. Symptoms include pale or clammy skin, rapid pulse, shallow breathing, and confusion. If you suspect someone is in shock, lay them down on their back and elevate their legs slightly to improve blood flow to vital organs. Cover them with a blanket to keep them warm and reassure them until help arrives.

8. Be Prepared

Keep a well-stocked first aid kit at home, in your car, and at work, and familiarise yourself with its contents. Additionally, consider taking a certified first aid course to gain hands-on training and confidence in administering aid during emergencies. Practice basic first aid techniques regularly to maintain proficiency and readiness.


Equipping yourself with basic first-aid knowledge makes you a valuable asset in times of need. Whether providing CPR, stopping bleeding, or immobilising a fracture, your actions can make a significant difference in the outcome of an emergency. Remember to stay calm, assess the situation, and prioritise safety. With preparation and practice, you can be ready to handle any first-aid situation that comes your way.

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