A Nurse’s Guide to First Aid Preparedness

Disasters and emergency situations can disrupt the lives of anyone, regardless of who they are or where they live. These events can come in the form of a fire, flood, hurricane, or earthquake. Chemical spills and even terrorist attacks are also dangerous situations that can have widespread and disastrous results. Damaged property, serious injury, and loss of life are common outcomes for people who are affected by these situations. While there are no guarantees that a person or their family will be unscathed by disaster, knowing what steps to take to protect one’s home and family is invaluable and greatly improves the chances of survival. By being prepared, a person is able to calmly plan ahead, ensuring that they and their loved ones have what they need and know what to do in the event of an emergency situation.

Prepare a First Aid Kit

When disaster strikes, injuries are common and to be expected. They can range from mild scrapes and bruises to more severe wounds. To prepare for the possibility of future injury, people must have the right medical supplies on hand. This means having a first aid kit. It is possible to buy a kit that’s already filled with essential items or build one from scratch. Regardless of how a person goes about getting one, it is important that they have it well before any emergency or disaster happens. A first aid kit can be a box, a bag, or another type of container that’s stocked with basic supplies such as bandages, cloth tape, compression dressings, latex gloves, and gauze pads. It should include any medications that are necessary to treat current health problems that a person may have as well as aspirin, hydrocortisone and antibiotic ointments, and antiseptic wipes. Other supplies to have on hand include a thermometer, a blanket, scissors, and tweezers.

Even after a first aid kit has been assembled, it should not be set aside or forgotten. It must be regularly checked to ensure that medications are not out of date and that anything that has expired is replaced. Replace any sterile items that have been opened and any items that are missing. Routine upkeep will ensure that the kit is ready for use when it is needed.

Where Should First Aid Kits Be Kept?

A first aid kit is only valuable if it’s available to the people who need it. Once stocked, it should be placed in a location that is easily accessible to all teens and adults. In addition, everyone in a household or place of business must know where it is stored. Because emergency situations can occur while a person is traveling in their car as well, a smaller version of a first aid kit should be kept in vehicles.

Prepare for a Natural or Environmental Disaster

There are many different disasters that can befall a family or an area in general, and it’s important that people prepare for these situations to the best of their abilities. When a person lives in an area that’s prone to specific types of disasters, such as earthquakes or hurricanes, they must take steps to protect their homes and families from them. For example, people who live in areas where earthquakes are common should secure top-heavy items from falling and identify where the safest spots are to drop, cover, and hold on. One must also prepare for fires and other dangerous situations that can occur regardless of location. This includes learning where and how to turn off utilities such as gas and water and assembling supplies necessary for survival, including non-perishable foods, water, flashlights, batteries, and a battery-operated radio. Ideally, people will want enough supplies to last for three or more days.

Another important part of preparing for a disaster is to make an escape plan. This plan outlines routes to exit one’s home or business from any room. It’s important to write or draw this escape plan and review it with all members of the household or workplace. In addition to reviewing the plan, practicing it ensures that everyone understands how to escape if necessary. Creating a communications plan and outlining a place to meet are also important when preparing for a disaster. As part of a family’s communication plan, designate a central contact person who lives outside of the area. This is the person everyone should contact or seek out if they are unable to meet or reach each other.

Prepare for a Health Emergency

Health emergencies often occur alongside other emergency situations, but one doesn’t have to be a nurse or in nursing school to prepare for them. A person can start by writing down the family physician’s contact information and the number for poison control. This information can be kept in one’s wallet, purse, and first aid kit in addition to being programmed into their phone. While emergency medical services should be contacted in the event of a medical crisis, there can be a delay during a disaster. Knowing basic first aid is crucial at times like this, as it allows people to help others with a certain degree of confidence and it can save a person’s life. Learning CPR is also extremely important and enables people to act quickly and decisively if someone is unconscious and stops breathing.