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Basic first aid skills to pick up and essentials for your first aid kit

Emergencies can strike from anywhere so it is best to be always prepared.

Matthaeus Choo
Matthaeus Choo

Published: 18 November 2020, 1:21 PM

One positive thing brought about by COVID-19 is that it has pushed more Singaporeans to lace up their sports shoes and engage in physical activities. 

While these activities, such as hiking or jogging, do make for a healthier lifestyle, it has also led to an increased need for first aid knowledge.

Sure, there is time to whip out your smartphones to find ways to solve minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes. However, that privilege isn’t available for health emergencies. 

First aid knowledge is easily underappreciated but they could mean the difference between life and death.

Most recently, the importance of first aid hit the news with the winners of this year’s SCDF Community First Responder Award. Despite their everyday work hardly relating to emergency services, the quick thinking of the awardees and their knowledge of first aid proved to be lifesaving.

 

The SCDF Community First Responder Award was presented to Nur Aishah Mohamed Roslan, Balakrishnan Gopinathan and Ram Kumar Baskaran for saving a cleaner’s life. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/SCDF

 

Before looking to pick up first aid skills, it is essential to ensure a well-stocked medicine or first aid kit at home and even the workplace. A comprehensive list is available on the HealthHub website. For those preferring convenience, local supplier First Aid Supplies offers complete packages of first aid kits. 

Having these necessities isn’t enough either. Items, medicines and ointments have to be checked from time to time to ensure that they are not expired by the time they are needed the most. During this pandemic period, it may also be prudent to pack into a kit a few masks, hand sanitisers and a grab bag of essential belongings just in case you have to be hospitalised.

While there are countless articles and videos online, the best and safest way to pick up on first aid skills will be from local associations such as the Singapore Red Cross and the Singapore Emergency Responder Academy

Some of these courses are subsidised as well: Singapore Red Cross’s CPR+AED Awareness Workshop is complimentary for Singaporeans and PR, while the Singapore First Aid Training Centre has courses that can be subsidised by SkillsFuture credits. 

Here are a few common first aid skills and directions for minor injuries, which may be useful for your next weekend escape into nature and for everyday life.

Knowing some basic first aid skills may come in handy. PHOTO CREDIT: PEGGY AND MARCO LACHMANN-ANKE VIA PIXABAY

 

Cuts

Wash your hands and the wound firsty to prevent any infections. Apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or bandage and elevate the wound to stop the bleeding. If you have a first aid kit nearby, apply antibiotic jelly to help prevent scarring before covering the wound with a bandage or gauze. 

While infections are rare, you should still be on the lookout for any signs such as redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling.

Sprains

The acronym RICE will be important for treating sprains: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

The injured should rest immediately with ice applied to the sprained area at 10 to 20 minute intervals to ease pain – however, prolong application of ice should be avoided to prevent an ice burn. 

If there is visible bruising, a compression bandage can be used to ease the pain. This should be avoided however if the bandage increases pain or blocks circulation. 

Getting enough rest and elevating the injured area for the first 24 to 48 hours will be crucial. If the condition worsens, see a doctor immediately. 

 

Treating a bee or wasp sting is not that complicated. PHOTO CREDIT: FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM

Bee and wasp stings

Generally, bees and wasps are not aggressive unless their hives are under threat. 

If a bee hive or a wasp nest is spotted, keep your distance, do not disturb the hive and notify NParks (1800-471-7300) or pest control services. 

If you are unfortunate enough to be stung by these flying insects, fret not, the first aid treatment is straight forward. The key difference between the two insects will be that bees sting only once, while a wasp can sting more than once.  

For bee stings, scrape the stinger out but be weary not to forcefully pull out the stinger as that may accidentally cause more venom to be released. In both cases, wash the wound with soap and water and monitor for allergic reactions – severe reactions such as breathlessness should be treated by the doctor immediately.

Burns

This is probably already an injury familiar for most who’ve tried cooking for the first time during the circuit breaker. Burns should be cooled down immediately by cool running water. 

Contrary to popular belief, applying toothpaste for burns should be avoided as it may increase the risk of infection. Instead, aloe vera lotion or a moisturiser should be applied once the burn is cooled to prevent drying and for relief.


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