Beginning a college education is exciting as it marks the start of true independence and responsibility. It also means being responsible for taking care of yourself (and possibly others) if an accident or emergency should occur. Because life is unpredictable, you need to know what to do for any given incident or emergency. Here's what every college student should know about first aid.
1. The Basic Necessities
The first thing you need to do is stock up on some basic essentials that you can use to administer first aid. Included in the list of must-haves are tweezers, hand sanitizer, non-latex gloves, pain relievers, band aids and gauzes, tape (for the gauzes), antiseptic wipes and/or hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic cream, saline solution and allergy medicine.
If you are stocked with these items, than you will be well-prepared in case something happens. Place these items in a box or some other container and put it where it is easy to get to so you do not waste time fumbling around looking for it during an emergency. Be sure to let your roommate know where it is in case he or she needs it.
2. Cuts and Scrapes
Getting bruised is part of life. Luckily, most cuts and scrapes are superficial wounds which require not much more than washing them with soap and water, or an antiseptic, and putting a band aid on it. However, if a cut seems to bleed excessively without showing any signs of stopping or if you are bleeding through the bandages, you should go to an emergency room or call 911 as it may be a deep cut that requires stitches.
3. Bug Bites and Stings
If you are outside a lot you will no doubt get bitten or stung by some type of bug. More often than not, it is harmless and all you will do is be itchy with or without a small welt. In those cases, you can apply an anti-itch cream or lotion. If you see a tick, use tweezers to remove it and save it so that it can be analyzed for Lyme’s disease or viruses. If you notice the area is getting swollen and you are not feeling well shortly after the bite or sting, take an allergy medicine to counter an allergic reaction you could be having and seek medical attention.
Most students have not tried their hand at cooking until they have no in college. And while stoves and ovens are not usually allowed in dorm rooms, hot plates, toasters and microwaves are. As helpful as they may be, they can also be the cause of burns. If you suffer a burn, run it under cold water or place a wet towel on it. Cover the burn up with a bandage or some gauze. If there is pain and/or swelling, take a pain reliever. If, however, the burn is very bad or develops into an infection, you need to get medical attention right away.
5. Eye Injuries
Eye injuries can be serious so it is important to address the problem immediately if you get something in it that causes burning, swelling or a loss of vision. If it is as simple as getting something in your eye, use saline water to flush it out. Make sure not to rub your eye if something is in it and clean your hands before touching your eye. For a black and blue eye, apply a cold compress on it as soon as you can to reduce swelling. Never attempt to remove something out of your eye using tweezers or any other tool as you may cause more damage. Ask someone to get you medical attention or call 911. Do not attempt to drive yourself anywhere since your vision is impaired.
Getting a minor shock is one thing, but getting electrocuted by a high voltage device is cause for concern. In this case, you need to call 911 immediately where a visit to the emergency room will likely follow. A high-voltage electrocution can leave severe burn marks, a loss of hearing, vision or feeling in the affected area, and even unconsciousness. These are all serious enough that you need to seek immediate professional medical attention.
7. Unconsciousness with No Breathing
While you cannot help yourself if you fall unconscious and stop breathing, you can help someone who does. If you see someone on the ground, check to see if they are breathing. Either call 911 or have someone nearby call. Begin chest compressions by placing one hand on top of the other in the middle of the chest at nipple level and press down firmly until 911 arrives. If the person comes to before help gets there, roll them unto their left side and have them lie still until the paramedics arrive.
Most people know if someone is choking, you go behind them and give them the Heimlich maneuver. But what if you are choking and no one is around to help? In this case, find a desk, table or any well-grounded surface that is waist-high and throw yourself into it right near your belly button. If there is a sturdy chair (one without any wheels and will not move), you can lean over it trying to dislodge whatever is caught in your throat. Also call 911 and leave the phone hanging as they will come regardless of whether you talk to them or not.
Going off to college is an exciting time, but you should also be prepared in case of an emergency whether it is yours or someone else’s. The key to first aid is to act quickly and getting medical attention when things are beyond your control or serious enough to warrant professional help.