If you’re not a doctor or nurse, it can be hard to know to what’s right and wrong when it comes to treating injuries efficiently. You may use alcohol to treat a cut or scrape, or tilt your head back to stop a bloody nose, but are these really the best first aid methods?
(via Prevention) From the time we’re children, we hear our parents and grandparents touting easy ways to treat this and that. But you may be surprised how many of those at-home remedies don’t help you heal — in fact, they could do extra damage.
So we’re laying out the top 5 first aid mistakes you may be making and what you should do instead.
#1. Disinfecting Wounds with an Antiseptic Solution
A lot of us have learned to clean our cuts and scrapes with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or iodine. But those antiseptic solutions can hurt your healing time. We all know the bubbles we see with hydrogen peroxide, but contrary to popular belief, those are your body’s skin cells that help promote healing, and the stinging from alcohol is your healthy tissue being harmed.
Instead: Wash with Water
To get debris and bacteria out, it’s best to hold the wound under the tap and wash thoroughly. If it continues to bleed, apply direct pressure until it stops. Once the cut is clean, put an ointment like Neosporin on it for protection. Ideally, let the cut air out or cover with a loose bandage.
#2. Stopping a Bloody Nose by Tilting Your Head Back
While tilting your head back may feel like it stops the bleeding, there’s actually no way of knowing for sure. When you tilt your head back, the blood drains into your throat which means you don’t know how much you’re bleeding or when it stops. In some cases, tilting your head back and draining the blood into your throat may also cause you to throw up.
Instead: Pinch Your Nose Shut
Keeping your head upright will lower blood pressure in your nose. Then use your fingers to pinch both nostrils shut for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, check and see if your nose is still bleeding. If so, pinch your nose shut for another 15 minutes. Most nose bleeds are nothing to worry about but if you are still bleeding after 30 minutes, contact your doctor.
#3. The Closest Hospital Isn’t Always the Best in an Emergency
When you’re suffering a medical emergency, it’s natural to head to the closest emergency room for treatment but it may be smarter to keep driving to the next hospital.
Instead: Call 9-1-1 to Confirm
In any true emergency, your first step should be to call 911. On the phone, you can describe your symptoms and ask for recommendations on specialty centers for heart conditions, stroke, burns and trauma.
#4. Performing Mouth-to-Mouth During CPR
If you learned CPR years ago, it’s possible your method is outdated. The American Heart Association now recommends hands-only CPR for the best patient outcomes.
Instead: Only Do Compressions
If you don’t feel a pulse, start compressions immediately and have someone else call 911. Put the heel of your hand in the center of the person’s chest and place your other hand on top and push down two inches. The goal is to get about 100 compressions per minute.
#5. Taking Too Much Tylenol
Many of us have taken acetaminophen for pain or a fever, but how closely do you track the amount you take? Having more than 4,000 mg per day — about six to eight Extra Strength Tylenol gel caps — can kill you.
What makes overdose so dangerous is how many over-the-counter drugs include acetaminophen. In addition to painkillers, it can also show up in Alka-Seltzer, Nyquil and Sudafed to name a few.
Instead: Research Your Medications
The National Institutes of Health say acetaminophen overdose is the most common poisoning worldwide, so whenever you take medications be sure to double check warning labels and don’t exceed the daily limit. Keep in mind, it can be listed as Acetaminophen, Acetaminoph, Acetaminop, Acetamin, Acetam, APAP and AC.