First Aid for Emergency Situations
When an emergency strikes, there's no time to start researching how to respond. For your own safety and the safety of your friends and family, it's a good idea to learn about emergency protocol and first aid methods. By learning in advance, you'll ensure that you can respond quickly and appropriately if there's ever an emergency situation. From natural disasters to traffic accidents, you never know when a situation will arise that will demand quick thinking, cool nerves, and a little bit of know-how.
Be Prepared for an Emergency
The first step you can take towards emergency preparedness is education. Take time to learn about the most common emergency situations that could affect you and your loved ones. Research which types of natural disasters are most likely to affect your community, whether it's hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes. Consider, too, which extra risk factors may particularly affect you and your family. For example, if you have small children and you live near a body of water, you should make sure you understand what to do in cases of drowning.
Types of Emergencies
While each person runs into slightly different risks, depending on lifestyle and geography, many of the most common emergency situations can happen to anyone. Health-related emergencies, such as sudden heart attacks or strokes, can affect a surprisingly wide cross-section of the population. Automobile accidents are extremely common cause of injury. Whether an accident results in minor whiplash or more serious injuries, it's important to learn how to respond quickly. Many emergency situations involve threatening situations with other people. It's worth learning what to do in cases of muggings, home burglaries, and other scenarios where your personal safety may be endangered.
Naturally, taking preventative steps to avoid injury is far better than trying to mend the problem afterward. In many cases, a few common sense practices can go a long way. Follow the same simple safety rules you were taught as a child, and teach them to any children you might have, as well. For example, every child learns to look both ways before crossing the road, but many grow up to be inveterate jaywalkers as adults. When driving, abstain from imbibing any alcohol,instead, use a "designated driver" system or plan to take a taxi when appropriate. Finally, learn to trust your gut. If you're walking down a dark street in a shady part of town and you begin to question your safety, follow your instinct and find a better means of getting wherever you need to go.
Emergency Action Steps
In emergency situations, it is important to respond quickly. A clear emergency action plan is a good way to streamline your responses. If you break down your plan into steps, you'll be sure to know exactly what to do. For example, your family might draw up an emergency action plan in case of a house fire. First, each family member would find the safest route out of the house. Next, everyone would gather at a certain point, a good distance from the house.
In many emergency cases, the best thing you can do is to stay calm and collected. Heightened emotions tend to hamper your critical thinking skills and your ability to think quickly. In addition to staying "cool under pressure", several concrete skills can make the difference in life-and-death situations. For example, any adult and even older children should be able to apply pressure to a wound, administer CPR, check for signs of obstructed breathing and perform a few other basic measures. Just knowing what to do is often the hardest part. In addition, though, it's a good idea to put together a first aid kit, so you'll have any item you need on hand. Depending on the circumstances, the kit may include bandages, clean water, an antiseptic, and other critical supplies. A first aid kit for your car might include a blanket, while a home first aid kit may include more medical supplies.
- Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
- National Fire Protection Association: Emergency Preparedness
- University of Florida: Hurricane Preparedness
- Preparing For & Weathering Floods, Storms and Power Outages
- How to Prepare Your Home for a Blackout
- Family Preparedness: Power Outages
- 911 Basics: Responding to a Heart Attack
- Learn CPR: You Can Do It!
- Mayo Clinic: First Aid
- Kids Health: First Aid & Safety
- MedlinePlus: First Aid Tips
- Pet First Aid: Basic Procedures
- Wilderness First Aid Basics
- University of Maryland: Emergency Preparedness
- Emergency Plan
- Family Disaster Plan and Personal Survival Guide
- National Preparedness Month: Family/Personal Preparedness
- Family Disaster Plan
See also our guide to hypertension for addressing this specific heart issue.