Can You Treat These Common First Aid Emergencies?

HEALTH

Elisabeth Henderson

7 Min Quiz

Image: Creativeye99 / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

A hike in the woods, a picnic in the park, a dinner party with friends — all of these peaceful activities can turn into an emergency in the blink of an eye. Someone can sprain an ankle, get stung by a yellowjacket, or slice their hand open while cutting an avocado. If any of these minor emergencies come to your picnic, will you know what to do? 

First aid training is all about being prepared for the unexpected. While there is no replacement for proper, in-person first aid training through a professional medical organization, people can educate themselves through valid first aid preparation sites. Be sure to check where a site draws its information from, and look for reputable sources, like the Red Cross. As you’ll find, it’s always better to find out what the current medical practices are for treating emergencies, because many common beliefs passed down over the generations have been proven to be more harmful than helpful. 

Should you pee on a jellyfish sting, place a tourniquet over a bleeding wound, or hold a steak to a black eye? If you’re not sure, you may need a refresher on which first aid practices are myths and which will effectively save a life ... or at least save the picnic. Take this quiz to see if you’re ready for the next emergency life may throw your way! 

If a child’s nose is dripping blood, what's the best way to stop the flow?

In the event of a bloody nose (which are most often caused by nose-picking), lean the head forward and hold the nose with pressure just below the bridge and wait. Tilting the head back can cause the person to swallow blood. Stuffing the nostrils and pinching the nostrils are both ineffective and can be harmful.

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If you suspect that a person’s skin has been frozen by frostbite, how can you warm it up without further damage?

Frostbite is a serious condition best treated by medical professionals. If you cannot get medical help in time, though, the best way to warm frostbite is to do it gradually through skin-to-skin contact or warm water no hotter than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Applying hot pads or other heat sources can burn the skin.

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What is the best way to remove a bee stinger from the skin?

Many myths state that a bee stinger must be removed only in a particular way. The most important thing to focus on, though, is removing the stinger as rapidly as possible so that less venom enters the bloodstream. Get it out however you can — just do it quickly! Don’t use your teeth, though. That’s a good way to cause infection.

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How should you immediately treat someone who has fainted?

When a person faints, the cause may either be of no serious concern or a sign of a serious condition. Until the cause is certain, treat it as an emergency. Lay the person on their back and raise the legs above the heart. Be sure to check breathing and pulse, and begin chest compressions and call 911 if the heart stops.

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If you suspect someone is suffering from hypothermia, which of these should you not do?

Hypothermia, if left untreated, can be fatal and should be treated by medical professionals, if possible. Call 911 if someone is hypothermic. Remove wet clothes and replace them with dry clothes or blankets. Do not give a hypothermic person alcohol, as it can interfere with the body’s ability to warm itself.

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What can you immediately do if you suspect a child has swallowed something poisonous, like dishwasher pods?

If a child, or anyone else, is suspected of ingesting a poisonous item and has no symptoms, call the poison helpline immediately. Call 911 if the person is having symptoms of poisoning, like drowsiness, unconsciousness or seizures. While you wait, you can remove anything you find in the mouth and search for any sign of what the person ingested.

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Which of the following can be helpful in treating persistent diarrhea?

If you experience persistent diarrhea as a result of gastroenteritis, take small amounts of a rehydrating beverage, like a sports drink, to prevent dehydration. Ease back into eating with simple foods, like soda crackers, and avoid dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. If diarrhea continues more than four days, stomach pain intensifies or you experience a high fever, seek medical help.

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If you have a blister that is not very painful and you will not be continuing the activity that caused it, what is the best thing to do for it?

If a blister is not causing excessive pain, it is best to keep it intact so that the skin can provide a natural bandage and openings in the skin do not create the possibility for infection to enter in. If you are not continuing the activity that caused the blister, it will likely heal on its own.

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Which of the following may be a sign of heat stroke?

Hot, dry skin or excessive sweating can both be signs of heat stroke, a potentially life-threatening condition. If someone may have heat stroke, call 911, remove them from the heat and do whatever you can to cool them down. Spraying them with water, applying cool compresses and drinking cool — but not cold — water can help.

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If an animal bites you, under what conditions can you just clean it with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage?

Minor animal bites can be treated with simple soap, water and antibiotic ointment. Other factors, like the risk of rabies, contact with wild animals or deep punctures, require medical attention. Bites from bats can cause rabies without even leaving a mark on the skin.

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What can the appearance of dark circles around both eyes be a sign of in a black eye injury?

While black eyes are typically caused by injuries that are not serious, they can sometimes point to a more severe wound. Dark circles around both eyes, sometimes called "racoon eyes," can be an indicator that the skull may be fractured.

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What is the most sure method to stop the pain of a jellyfish sting?

While many people swear by the pain relief offered by peeing on a jellyfish sting, the experts say that it’s not as effective as vinegar. Vinegar has a high acid content which neutralizes the venom, and urine does not always have a high acid content. You don’t want your friend to pee on you for no reason!

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If you accidentally spray gasoline into your eye, what can you immediately do?

If you get any chemicals in your eyes, the first immediate step is to flush them out with a gentle stream of cool water. You can stand in the shower and hold your eyelids open in the stream or splash water into them from a faucet. Always remove contact lenses. Call an eye specialist to check for damage, or call 911 if any symptoms develop.

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What is the most tried and true method of bringing down the swelling on a black eye?

While it has been tried and true as a myth, the advice to place a frozen steak is not the best method for reducing swelling on a black eye. The steak, while nice and cold, also may be host to E. coli and other bacteria that you don’t want to introduce to the eye. A cold compress will be just fine, just don’t put ice directly on skin or press on the eye itself.

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If a child has lodged a red bead up their nostril, which of the following should you not do?

If you can’t easily see it, trying to retrieve an object in the nose can cause it to become more lodged and more difficult to recover. Try gently blowing the nose to extract the object, and call for medical help if this doesn’t do the trick.

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Which of the following symptoms do not indicate that a head injury requires medical attention?

Many head injuries can heal without a trip to the emergency room, but some symptoms show signs that you’ll want to get checked out. A large bump is a normal reaction to head trauma and does not require medical attention. For any of the other symptoms, though, a doctor should check to make sure other internal damage has not occurred.

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If you suffer a puncture wound, when should you seek medical care?

Puncture wounds often do not bleed very much, but they can easily lead to infections. It’s crucial to seek medical care if a wound is too deep to clean. Wounds from nails that are not too deep may heal if adequately washed and antibiotic ointment applied — as long as the person has had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years.

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If you have not been trained in CPR, what should you do if someone’s heart has stopped beating?

Even if you are not trained in CPR, you can still do your best to do chest compressions, and it may save someone’s life. If someone else is there, have them call 911 while you do. If not, call first, then begin CPR. The American Heart Association recommends that you do not try to give rescue breaths if you are not trained.

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If your child knocks a cup of extremely hot coffee on themself, at what point should you seek medical care for the burn?

If a person, especially a child, suffers a burn larger than three inches in diameter, they may need medical care. Numbness, pain, and even blistering are normal effects of minor burns. While painful, they can be treated carefully at home.

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Your friend sliced her hand open while cutting a butternut squash. How should you help her clean it?

To clean a cut, run cool water over it for several minutes and wash around the wound with soap. Be careful not to get soap in the wound and avoid using alcohol, iodine or hydrogen peroxide in the wound as these can all be irritants. Put on an antibiotic ointment and keep an eye on the area for infection.

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If your friend accidentally touched the stove and is howling from the pain, how can you stop the burning?

The first thing to do in the case of a burn is to take away the source of the burn. The second thing is to stop the burning by cooling down the skin. However, contrary to common myths, applying ice to a burn can be damaging, not helpful. Ice can further damage burned skin, so you should place the burn in cool water.

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While you were out hiking deep in the woods, your friend fell down and is experiencing extreme pain in their leg, even with small movements. What can you do?

If someone experiences excruciating pain with even small movements, they likely have a broken bone. If so, they will need to see a doctor. If you can’t get immediately to a doctor, do your best to immobilize the wound with a splint. Do not move the wounded area, and definitely do not try to use it.

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Your child was bitten by a spider, but you don’t know what kind it was. When should you seek medical help?

Most spider bites can be treated at home, but a few spiders, like black widows and brown recluses, can be quite dangerous. One sign that a bite can be serious is an ulcer growing around the bite. Severe pain, nausea and vomiting are other signs to call for help.

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Your friend, who is severely allergic to peanuts, accidentally ate peanut butter at the picnic and is starting to break out in hives. What should you do?

If your friend is showing signs of anaphylactic shock, like hives, ask them if they have an EpiPen and if they want you to inject it. They likely know what will be best to treat their allergy. If they do not have one, call 911 immediately. Antihistamine pills are not sufficiently potent to treat anaphylactic shock.

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If you were out in a sandstorm and feel like your eye has been scratched from sand, what can you do to help heal?

If you sense that you may have scratched your eye, you will likely need medical attention. In the meantime, you can rinse out your eye with water or saline to remove any particles that may still be irritating the eye. Do not rub the eye or try to remove anything with tweezers.

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While playing in a river, you were bitten by a snake that swam away and you didn’t see. What should you do?

If a snake bites you, and you’re not sure whether it's venomous, go ahead and seek medical attention. By the time you get to the hospital, you may know the bite is not deteriorating, and you won’t need to be admitted. If the bite is venomous, though, you’ll need to have help as quickly as possible. Do not use a tourniquet or try to suck out the venom, as both of these can worsen snake bites.

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Someone on your football team was hit hard on the back and is laying on the field in immense pain. What should you do to help them before the medics arrive?

If someone receives an injury to the back, it’s crucial not to move them, as this can worsen a spinal injury. Do what you can to help them stay still until professional help arrives. Do not let them try to get up.

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If you have a tick attached to you, what is the best way to remove it?

Contrary to folklore, it’s not recommended to use a hot match to get a tick to back out. It works best to use tweezers to pull a tick straight out. Squeezing or twisting the tick may cause parts of the insect to get left in the skin. Check on tick bites for redness and swelling.

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If your child begins to show signs of sunburn while out at the beach, what should you do?

If your child shows signs of sunburn, it’s best to get them out of the sun and apply a cooling lotion, like aloe vera. Remaining in the sun can worsen sunburns. If the burn develops blisters, leave them to heal on their own, as they can prevent infection. Large blisters may require medical attention.

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How quickly should you expect a sprained ankle to begin improving?

A sprain, tears in the ligaments that hold joints and bones together, should begin to improve in two to three days. If it does not, the injury may be a fracture and not just a sprain, so you may need to seek medical attention.

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When your child was swinging a bat, they accidentally hit you in the face and cleanly knocked out one of your teeth. What can you do?

Sometimes permanent teeth can be saved and put back in if you follow careful steps. Teeth can be cleaned for 10 seconds in water and placed back in the socket until you see your dentist. Do not touch the roots of teeth, as this can keep them from recovering.

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What steps can you follow to encourage a sprain to heal?

The acronym R.I.C.E. is advised to help a sprain heal. It stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. Staying off of a sprain for about three days, applying ice four to eight times a day, compressing the affected area and holding it above the heart can all help speed recovery.

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How can you tell when someone with an electrical burn should see a doctor?

People who suffer electrical burns should always see a doctor. This is because electrical burns, whether from a house current, lightning or any other reason, can cause internal damage that you may not be able to see on the surface.

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If you experience a tight pain in your chest that expands through your shoulders, what might you suspect?

Squeezing pain or discomfort in your chest that spreads across your back may be symptoms of a heart attack. Don’t try to work through it. Chew and swallow an aspirin and call 911.

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Your child swallowed a circular watch battery. What should you do?

If a child (or an adult) swallows a round battery, do not wait for it to pass. These batteries can burn through internal tissues within just two hours and cause severe damage and even death. It’s imperative to get emergency medical care if one is swallowed.

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