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How to Protect Yourself When Giving First Aid

Deborah has been trained in First Aid as a consequence of working with teens as an educator, Girl Scout leader, and school volunteer.

What Should You Do in an Emergency? First, Call the Paramedics ASAP - Then Follow These Steps

Unless the other person is in immediate danger, call the paramedics before you try anything yourself.  If other people are around, have them call while you start CPR or treatment.

Unless the other person is in immediate danger, call the paramedics before you try anything yourself. If other people are around, have them call while you start CPR or treatment.

First Aid Basics

Whether you work in a school, community center, or a business, emergencies can happen suddenly and usually when you least expect them. If your neighborhood is affected this year by a tornado, a flood, an earthquake or a storm, would you be prepared to take care of injured friends or family members. Would you know how to correctly apply pressure to a gaping wound, perform CPR, bandage a cut, or give similar aid to someone who is injured?

In addition, do you know the first step in applying First Aid to others ... making sure you can help them safely without getting injured ourselves? I have found that when the urge to help another person sweeps over us, we can unintentionally put ourselves at risk ... running into the street after an auto accident, or trying to get into a burning building to rescue victims, for example.

Many of us would rush to help anyone we saw injured, often without thinking about our own safety. Paramedics and other emergency personnel encourage us all to learn a few basic procedures so they do not have worry about finding two victims when they arrive! What steps do you need to take to make sure that you don't get injured, too?

Everyone Should Own a First Aid Kit and Keep It in a Handy Place

Be Sure You are in a Safe Location before Giving First Aid

First, make sure it is safe for you to give First Aid. Don't run into the street, squat down on a railroad track, or slide down the face of a steep slope in order to render First Aid. If you believe that the victim may have been electrocuted, make sure that the electricity has been turned off before you begin to help. There is no benefit to you being electrocuted, too.

In most emergency situations, try not to move the body unless the victim is in immediate danger of being hit by a train or car, or injured in some other way. Otherwise, make the patient comfortable if you can, call 911 or your local emergency number for help, and wait for paramedics to arrive. They will have the necessary equipment to deal with that steep slope, electric shock, broken bones or other dangerous situation. Unless you are in a very remote area, they will usually be there in less than 10 to 15 minutes.

Keep a First Aid Guide Handy in Your Car and Home

Protect Yourself from Body Fluids during First Aid

When rendering First Aid to a victim who is a stranger, avoid contact with their blood and other body fluids. Use rubber gloves and a mask, if they are available. If not, use clean fabric or your clothing to protect you. In particular, you want to be careful to avoid getting blood or other body fluids in your mouth, eyes or on any part of your body that has been cut or scraped. Being exposed to the blood of an injured person could expose you to the HIV / AIDS virus, or other dangerous blood pathogens.

Because of these concerns, do not touch your mouth, nose or eyes while giving First Aid to a stranger and, of course, never eat or drink anything while giving First Aid. Wait until you have had an opportunity to thoroughly clean yourself. After you have given First Aid, wash your hands immediately with soap and water. Also wash any other parts of your body that might have touched the victim.

Protecting Yourself after the Emergency

When the emergency is over, remove any contaminated clothing as soon as possible and launder them or dispose of them. Keep blood contaminated clothing in a plastic bag until they can be cleaned or discarded. Finally, take a shower and get yourself completely cleaned off. Even though you should have already washed your hands, you may have inadvertently touched other parts of your body, or been exposed to body fluids that you didn’t notice in the heat of the moment.

By taking these steps before, during and after the emergency, you will significantly reduce the chances that you will have been injured during the emergency, or infected by any bacteria or viruses the victim may have been carrying.

In addition, while you are taking steps to protect yourself from their body fluids, you are also protecting the victim from being exposed to any harmful bacteria that you may be carrying! Exercising good hygiene is an excellent precaution for everyone at the scene of an emergency.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Deborah-Diane


Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on April 26, 2015:

Ezzly - Thank you for reading and commenting on this article. We all want to help others when we can, while keeping ourselves safe, too.

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on February 15, 2015:

Many people get so involved with helping someone else, that they forget the danger they could be in. Everyone needs to have a First Aid class so they know how to help others without endangering themselves.

ezzly on February 14, 2015:

This is a wonderful hub and very important ! Thanks for highlighting the needs of taking precautions! Voted up

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Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on July 10, 2014:

People get so nervous and excited when an emergency arises that they sometimes forget about their own safety. Thanks for reading my article.

Janis from California on July 09, 2014:

You're so right in the importance of protecting yourself.

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on January 04, 2014:

Thank you for getting this information out. We were trained about this every year that I worked for a school district, too; it's something everyone should know.

C E Clark from North Texas on January 04, 2014:

This is a very important article for people to read. Everyone should know how to protect themselves while helping someone who is injured or sick. Everyone in my school district is given this training at the beginning of each year as a refresher so we won't forget the correct way to help our students and protect ourselves at the same time, if that should be necessary. Pinning this to 'Awesome Hubpages' and sharing with my followers.

C E Clark from North Texas on August 22, 2013:

Came back to pin this to my 'Health' board. Everyone needs to know this information to protect themselves and whoever they are trying to help. Sharing again too.

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on June 19, 2013:

I'm glad that people find this information useful. Vandynegl, you asked a good question. While people may not be tempted to eat or drink while doing vigorous first aid, such as CPR, they may be less careful when they are helping clean a child's wound, for example. However, this is a bad habit and it is worth it to make sure that people are conscience of why they should avoid doing this.

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on June 19, 2013:

This is information that we don't think of! Often, we are caught off guard when needing to give first aid, but we must remember to be careful for ourselves too. I like the advice to call paramedics first before trying to "do it yourself." I do, however, find the "never eat or drink anything while giving first aid" people actually do something like that?

C E Clark from North Texas on June 18, 2013:

Good advice that anyone working with the public should know and heed. A good idea even with family members often times, too, even though everyone living in the same home usually share most of their germs anyway. We get this instruction at the beginning of every school year. Sharing with my followers.

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on May 10, 2013:

Thanks for putting this on your health board and sharing it with others. I think it is important that people remember the importance of taking care of themselves when they help others.

moonlake from America on May 10, 2013:

Came back to read your hub and thought I would pin it to my health board and shared.

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on May 04, 2013:

It is really important that we take care of ourselves whenever we take care of others. Nothing is to be gained by putting ourselves at risk. Thanks for your comments.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on May 04, 2013:

These are great guidelines. We can't avoid giving first aid in an emergency setting, but we can take precautions. I like your suggestions for cleanup afterward, too. Thank!

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on April 13, 2013:

Our school district also gives us a First Aid refresher course every year. One of the topics they emphasize is how important it is to not panic in an emergency. If we do, it can cause us to make decisions that are dangerous to ourselves and others.

C E Clark from North Texas on April 12, 2013:

Some good advice here, the same we received from our school district and that is included in refresher courses at least once a year.

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on March 25, 2013:

Thank you for reading this Hub about taking precautions when we render first aid. When I take the required first aid class each year for my job, they always stress that we need to make sure it is safe for us to render first aid before we risk getting ourselves hurt, too!

RTalloni on March 25, 2013:

A post with important points to always remember. Most would want to immediately try to help another person in crisis, but it is crucial that we think about how not to make matters worse.

moonlake from America on March 25, 2013:

This happened to me not long ago. I was first at a car accident. The cars had gone down a snow covered hill. I have a heart condition and knew I could not go down the hill. I called 911 first by that time more cars stopped and the men ran down the hill, so I didn't have to even get out of the car. Good information in your hub voted up.

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on July 20, 2012:

I'm so glad you are getting a First Aid Kit. Everyone should have one have one handy! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Sarah on July 20, 2012:

Nice! I just ordered myself a 50pc set first aid kit from Allegro Medical. I'm pretty excited...

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on June 01, 2012:

very useful article - thanks

Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on April 22, 2012:

Thank you both for your comments. It is very important that we protect ourselves, as well as the people we are trying to help!

Kayleesnider from USA on March 28, 2012:

Nice Hub Deborah, I hope it will create good awareness between all of us.

SantaCruz from Santa Cruz, CA on March 12, 2012:

"Never eat or drink anything while giving first aid." Haha! Seriously though, thanks for a hub that's sure to truly help someone. Voted up!

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