Many of us go through life having had the odd bump or fall along the way. The majority will have been able to attend to these minor injuries themselves with a little antiseptic and the odd bandage or plaster. Unlucky others may embark on a visit to A&E after a more serious incident deemed professional medical attention. When these things happen, do you really know what you’re doing when it comes to administering First Aid?

There are several common First Aid mistakes that happen through lack of training or simple human error. Here are a few, just so you know how to avoid them in the future:

When feeling faint, it’s commonly thought that putting your head between your legs will make you feel better. This isn’t a legitimate cure for such an ailment. Instead, it’s advised that laying flat and elevating the legs is the best way to bring someone round. Some good old fresh air wouldn’t harm either and ensuring any tight clothing is loosened will definitely help.

A dislocated joint causes a lot of pain for the injured party, so putting it back into place is often attempted. Without medical supervision this can cause even more pain and discomfort and could even lead to a more severe injury. It is advised that applying cold to the joint, using an ice pack and resting it with a sling for support would be much more beneficial.

Almost everybody will have experienced the strange feeling that a nose bleed will give. Trying to stop the bleeding is often attempted by titling the head back, although this is not the correct treatment. Instead it’s recommended to sit upright and pinch the bottom half of the nose with the thumb and index finger, whilst the casualty breathes through their mouth.

If a particularly hard fall knocks a tooth out, it’s worth finding the tooth and keeping hold of it for the emergency staff to attempt to reimplant it. No matter how dirty it is, refrain from scrubbing the tooth and gently rinse under a tap or with cold milk, if unavailable, suck the dirt off the tooth. The best thing to do is try and keep the tooth either in its socket or between the tongue gum and cheek.

If your bad luck goes so far as accidently severing a finger or thumb in a DIY disaster, the worst thing to do is trying to preserve the loose part by directly placing it on ice, contrary to popular belief. You should wrap the severed part in a damp gauze, then place in a watertight bag and then place the bag on ice so when at A&E staff can attempt to reattach it. The remaining injury on the hand or foot should be covered with a clean, dry cloth and have ice held against it to reduce swelling.

These simple tips will help you do the right thing in a medical emergency, however, to deal with such incidents it’s a good idea to get basic first aid training, keep a first aid products handy, keep your cool and be totally sure that what you’re doing is right. It’s always advisable to seek medical help if the casualty has an injury that causes them to bleed heavily or reach unconsciousness.

Our thanks to Emma S. for bringing some thought-provoking ideas to this important subject. pb