First Aid Misconceptions


All content within this post is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. UK Survival Guides is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.

With the internet being readily available at our fingertips we often turn to it any time that we need to learn something.

The problem with this is that there are a lot of people out there that are not medically trained that share “tips” that are not true. This can actually be very dangerous when it comes to trying to administering first aid to someone else.

During this post we are going to be trying to dispel some of those first aid myths that have been doing the rounds for years.


1. You Should Put Butter on a Burn

I have been hearing this for years, probably before even starting to use the internet as a child. While applying butter to the burn “may” ease the pain for a short while, it won’t last long. Also, if you seal off the air before the burn has properly cooled, it can keep the heat in meaning that the skin continues to burn.

Instead, what you SHOULD do is to remove any jewelry and clothing that touches the burn. Run the burn under the tap for around 20 minutes which will help make the area numb and prevent the skin from continuing to burn. Once cooled, you can use a clean cloth, cling film, or even a plastic bag to cover the area and stop it from becoming infected.

The only time butter would really be useful on a burn is when you get hot tar on your skin as the fattiness can help remove it.

2. Tip Your Head Back When You Have a Nose Bleed

Of course, if you tip your head back when you have a nose bleed it is going to stop the blood from running out of your nose but that blood has to go somewhere. When you tip your head back, the blood will run down your throat which can actually cause you to choke if the bleed is bad.

Instead, what you SHOULD do is pinch your nostrils together for around 10 minutes while tilting your head forward. Breathe through your mouth while you are doing this.

3. You Should Induce Vomiting if Someone Swallows Poison

If you have happened to swallow something poisonous, it is often the first instinct to try and make yourself throw up and for years in the past, it was seen as the right thing to do. Today however, both doctors and poison control experts advise against this approach as it can cause serious damage to your body.

Instead, what you SHOULD do is seek immediate medical advice and give as much detail as possible about what has been swallowed. Try to have the following information ready:

  1. Your age
  2. Height and weight
  3. When you swallowed the poison
  4. What poison it was and how much you swallowed
  5. Any signs or symptoms that you’re experiencing

By giving them the above information, it will allow them to give you the best recommendation.

4. If You’re Hyperventilating, Breathe Into a Bag

No, no, no! If you yourself or someone you know is hyperventilating, never give them a bag to breathe into. It is said that by breathing into a bag you can increase carbon dioxide levels. The problem with this is that is that when a person is hyperventilating, they will expel too much carbon dioxide, thus ‘rebreathing’ will help restore the lost gas. However, the problem lies in that many medical conditions can be confused for hyperventilation, for example asthma. In this case reducing their oxygen supply could be deadly.

5. You Should Put Something in the Mouth of Someone Having a Seizure/Fit

Many people believe that if they see someone having a seizure/fit then they should put something into their mouth so that they don’t swallow their tongue. In actual fact, doing so could cause them to break their teeth and choke on whatever was put into their mouth. This is more likely to happen than them actually swallowing their own tongue.

Instead, what you SHOULD do is clear the area of any hazards, protect their head, lay them down and call an ambulance. Once the seizure has stopped you should check to make sure that they are breathing and lay them in the recovery position. Don’t hold them down so as to prevent unnecessary injury.

6. You Should Put a Cold Steak on an Injured Eye

If you already have an injured eye why potentially make it worse by putting grease and foreign proteins in there too? A bag of frozen vegetables is a better solution. Any cold compress will bring down a smacked eye, but you will still end up with bruising.

If you get something in the eye or are poked in the eye, do not be tempted to rub the eye. If getting to the emergency room will take a while, a loose bandage to keep the eye shut may help the pain. If you get chemicals in your eye, flush with fresh water for 15 minutes. Even what seems to be a minor eye injury can turn serious and may require a trip to the emergency room or doctor.

Have any more first aid misconceptions that you’d like to share? Let us hear them in the comments below.


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