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First aid tips everyone should know

18th July 2023

There’s no denying that first aid can save lives, whether applied following an accident or an unforeseen health problem. Being able to respond to an accident can make all the difference, such as if an older relative should fall and injure themselves. In this guide, you will find some basic first-aid tips that everyone should know so that you can assist others should you need to. Whether it is a grandchild in your care, a spouse, a parent with limited mobility, or a friend, these first-aid tips and tricks can be invaluable.

10 basic first aid tips

Below, you can find some basic first-aid tips that everyone should know. Remember, these tips are not meant to substitute professional medical care. It is important to seek appropriate medical attention as soon as possible.

1. Check for safety

  • Make sure the scene is safe before approaching the injured person.
  • If the scene is unsafe, call for help and wait for emergency personnel to arrive if needed.

2. Assess the situation

  • Quickly assess the person's condition.
  • Determine if the person is conscious, breathing, and has any life-threatening injuries.

3. Call for help

  • If you deem the situation to be an emergency, dial 999, or for non-life-threatening situations, call 111.
  • If you are with someone else, have them call for help while you assess the situation.

4. Provide comfort and reassurance

  • Stay with the injured person and offer comfort and reassurance.
  • Talk to the person and tell them you are there to help.
  • Reassure the person that help is on the way.

Unless otherwise instructed by an emergency professional, here are a few things you can do to help in certain situations.

Perform CPR

  • If the person is unconscious and not breathing, perform CPR if you have received training. Do not perform CPR unless you have been trained by a certified instructor or are given instruction to do so by emergency services over the phone.

You can find a wealth of information on CPR on The Resuscitation Council’s public resource page, and you can take part in the interactive ‘Lifesaver’, which allows you to make crucial decisions and learn the essential skills needed to save a life.

Control bleeding

  • Apply direct pressure to any bleeding wounds with a clean cloth or your hand.
  • Elevate the injured area if possible.
  • Seek medical attention if the bleeding does not stop.

Treat burns

  • For minor burns, run cool (not cold) water over the affected area for several minutes.
  • Cover the burn with a clean, non-stick bandage or cloth.
  • Seek medical attention for severe burns.

Immobilise fractures

  • If you suspect a bone fracture, try to immobilise the injured area using a splint or makeshift support.
  • Avoid moving the person unless necessary.
  • Seek medical attention for suspected fractures.

Handle choking

The Red Cross recommend taking the following steps if someone is choking:

  • Encourage them to cough.
  • Bend them forwards and give up to 5 back blows to try and dislodge the blockage.
  • If they are still choking, give up to 5 abdominal thrusts: hold around the waist and pull inwards and upwards above their belly button. 
  • If they are still choking call 999.

Assist in allergic reactions

  • If someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction with symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swelling, seek medical help immediately.
  • If they have a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector (e.g. EpiPen), you should assist them in administering it.

Mental health first aid tips

First aid also applies to mental health. There are free courses you can take in mental health first aid, and you can see some basic tips below:

  • Be present and non-judgmental.
  • Show empathy to the person you are talking to.
  • Encourage the person to communicate openly.
  • Be patient and understanding.
  • Treat mental health concerns seriously.
  • Educate yourself about mental health issues.
  • Respect the person’s privacy.
  • Encourage healthy activities like hobbies, rest, and eating well.
  • Keep checking in on the person.
  • Encourage the person to seek professional advice.

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Tips for treating common injuries and health problems

The British Red Cross has kindly shared advice on the best methods for treating certain common injuries and health problems. Read on for more helpful first-aid safety tips. 

Sprains and Strains

1. Apply an ice pack to the injury (e.g., frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel). Applying it to the injury will reduce the swelling and pain.

2. If there is no improvement, seek medical advice.

Head injuries

1. Ask them to rest and apply something cold to the injury (e.g., frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel).

2. If they become drowsy or vomit, call 999 or ask someone else to do it while you comfort them.


1. Cool the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes.

2. Cover the burn with cling film or a clean plastic bag after the burn has been cooled.

3. If necessary, call 999 or get someone else to call them whilst you assist the injured person.


1. If the environment is cold, the person may be shivering, pale and cold to the touch. They may also be disorientated.

2. Call 999 immediately or get someone else to call them.

Heart attack

1. The person may have persistent, vice-like chest pain, which may spread to their arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach.

2. Call 999 immediately or get a passer-by to do it so that you can continue to help the person.

3. Make sure they are in a comfortable position (e.g., sit them on the floor, leaning against a wall or chair).

4. Give them constant reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.

To have information on first aid topics at your fingertips, download the free British Red Cross First Aid app.

You can also learn first aid skills online. Watch from a selection of videos on how to treat first-aid emergencies; it’s a simple and easy way to learn some basic first-aid skills. You can also test your knowledge with the British Red Cross online quiz.

For some practical, hands-on learning, book a first aid for adults course with over 50 UK venues to choose from.

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Tips when waiting for an ambulance

If you are with someone when waiting for an ambulance, it’s helpful to know what you can do to help.

First Aid for Life is an award-winning and fully regulated first aid training provider and offers a wealth of resources for those interested in learning from medical and emergency professionals. They have provided some tips for helping while waiting for an ambulance. They suggest following these five steps to assess the situation:

Danger – do not put yourself at risk

Response – are they conscious?

Airway – if unconscious – open their airway

Breathing – check for at least two normal breaths in a 10-second period

Circulation/CPR – if unconscious and not breathing, start CPR

READ ALSO: How to make a home safe for older people with limited mobility

A guide to first aid for older people

Having some basic first-aid knowledge can make all the difference. If you want to learn or expand on your first aid skills, then you can consider a course by First Aid for Life, designed for over 60s.

Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home. If you are worried about a relative’s mobility or need some assistance yourself, enquire about stairlifts today.

For more tips, guides, and advice, visit our news page.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.