10 Basic Life Saving Skills Everyone Should Know
Since our beginning here at UK Survival Guides we have written many articles that show you how to survive many different situations. But, what happens when it isn’t you that needs the help but the person next to you that is facing a real emergency?
You can’t just stand around watching as they possibly choke to death or faint. It is important that you understand some basic life saving skills to help when it really matters.
You don’t need to have gone through medical school to learn the signs and know what to do. Below we are going to take a look at some basic life saving skills everyone should know.
How to Perform CPR
CPR is often one of the first things that springs to mind when thinking of life saving skills. You don’t have to have taken a class to learn to perform CPR but we highly recommend it so that you can thoroughly understand the procedures and get in plenty of practice. Watch the video below to see how CPR should be performed.
“Hands-only” CPR can be done for anyone (except newborns) whose heart has stopped beating, according to the American Heart Association/Mayo Clinic. With this technique, also known as “compression-only” CPR, you press down about 2 inches deep on the chest at a rate of about 100 times per minute until the paramedics arrive—and skip the giving breath part.
Respond to a Heart Attack
It is incredibly important that you know the common signs of heart attacks and what you should do to help the person that is going through it. Sometimes the symptoms are obviously cardiac arrest (which would require CPR, above), and at other times they’re not so dramatic and could just seem like heartburn. After calling for help, if the person is over the age of 16 and confirms he/she isn’t allergic to aspirin—and isn’t taking any medications that could interact with it—offer a tablet of aspirin, which the Mayo Clinic says could reduce damage to the heart.
How to Stop Someone From Choking
Learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, especially if you spend a lot of time with children or older adults. It is usually clear when somebody is choking but not always. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs include an inability to talk; difficulty breathing or noisy breathing; squeaky sounds when trying to breathe; coughing, which may either be weak or forceful; skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky; skin that is flushed, then turns pale or bluish in color; or loss of consciousness.
Note: before doing the abdominal thrusts, give five blows to the person’s back with the heel of your hand.
There are different techniques for children and infants, whose small tracheas and propensity to swallow random objects put the fear of choking into every parent.
How to Save a Drowning Person
Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death, especially among children. If you’re not a strong swimmer, trying to swim out to the person should only be used as a very last resort. Remember the following:
- Reach: If the person is near the edge of the body of water, lie down on the ground and try to reach the person. Use a tree branch, oar, towel, or anything else to lengthen your reach. If you have to, get in the water and hold onto the edge while trying to reach the person
- Throw: Throw a safety ring, if available
- Row: Get a boat (again, if one’s available)
- Go: Swim out as the last resort. Bring a rescue safety ring, towel, or shirt with you so you can tow the person in.
Pulling someone from the water safely is the first step, but you should also know how to revive them if they’re unresponsive. Time is critical in order to prevent or diminish brain damage through oxygen deprivation.
How to Stop Bleeding
Sometimes a Band-Aid just isn’t enough to stop the bleeding. It’s important to know which wounds simply need pressure and which will need more advanced medical intervention but either way, the goal is to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible.
- Have the person lie down and cover them with a blanket. Elevate the site of bleeding.
- Remove any obvious dirt or debris from the wound, but leave any large or deeply embedded objects.
- Apply continuous pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for at least 20 minutes without looking to see if the bleeding has stopped.
- Add more gauze if you need to.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop, apply pressure to the artery: “Pressure points of the arm are on the inside of the arm just above the elbow and just below the armpit. Pressure points of the leg are just behind the knee and in the groin. Squeeze the main artery in these areas against the bone. Keep your fingers flat. With your other hand, continue to exert pressure on the wound itself.”
- Leave the bandages in place and immobilize the injured body part once the bleeding has stopped.
How to Treat Burns
Some burns require immediate medical care, and you should know the signs of those and what to do (and what not to do) while waiting for emergency workers to arrive.
following a burn, run cool tap water over the skin for 10 minutes. Then, cool the skin with a moist compress. Don’t put ice, butter or anything else directly on the burned skin. Clean the skin gently with mild soap and tap water. Simple burns involving only the very surface of the skin do not need dressings.
How to Deliver a Baby in an Emergency
The following advice is taken from the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, which says that babies basically deliver themselves (but still could use a little help):
- Time the uterine contractions. You’ll know it’s most likely real rather than false when contractions are about three to five minutes apart and last forty to ninety seconds, as well as increasing in strength and frequency, for at least an hour. This is for first-time mothers.
- Support the baby’s head and then body as it moves out of the mother’s body
- Dry off the baby and keep it warm. Don’t slap the baby’s bottom, but do clear out any fluid from the baby’s mouth with your fingers if necessary.
- Tie off the umbilical cord several inches from the baby with a piece of string (e.g., a shoelace).
- You don’t have to cut the cord unless you’re hours from the hospital. If that’s the case, safely cut the cord by tying it again a few inches closer to the mother and cutting between the knots.
If you have absolutely no alternative and the baby is starting to emerge feet first (a breech baby), the instructions are the same.
How to Escape a Burning Building
Simply put, leave everything and get the heck out! Don’t waste time looking for shoes, bags, jackets, keys, phone or anything else. Most fire-related deaths could have been avoided if the home owners exited the building at the first sign of the fire alarm.
Check out the following guides as a starter:
- How to Create a Fire Escape Plan
- How to Prevent and Put Out a Grease Fire
- How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Properly
- Hige Rise Building Evacuation During a Fire
- Why Smoke is Deadlier than Fire
How to Carry a Heavier Person
You don’t need to be superman to carry somebody that is heavier than you. All you need to do is take the time now to understand how to position them to leverage your leg and back strength. Check out the WikiHow guide that illustrates and describes the 10 steps of the fireman carry, which requires you to hoist someone over your shoulders so that you can walk them away toward safety.
How to Use a Defibrillator
Defibrillators are popping up everywhere, certainly here in the UK as we now have them in most supermarkets, shopping centers, community centers, and even out on the street. They are meant to be used to save somebody that may be suffering from a heart attack but to look at them, they can seem a little bit intimidating to use. The Red Cross describes how to use one so I highly recommend that you read the guide and memorize the steps.