Necessity is the mother of invention, and MacGyver definitely had the right idea. Joe Mulligan, head of first aid at the British Red Cross, says: “People tend to think they need all sorts of special equipment when someone hurts themselves but there are life-savers hiding in everyone’s home.” When emergencies strike, a little innovation and quick thinking could save the life of a loved one. Check out this list of 10 household items and the unconventional ways they can be used:
1. Chip Bag– An empty chip bag can serve as an excellent breathing barrier in a pinch. Cut a hole in the middle and place over the mouth of the victim.
2. Plastic Wrap– Burns that have been rinsed under clean, cold water can be loosely wrapped in plastic wrap when first aid materials are not available. The plastic wrap will only cling to itself and will provide a barrier from infection until the wound can be addressed by a medical professional.
3. Phone Book– A person who has been electrocuted will themselves become a conductor. To disconnect them from the source of the current (a downed power line, split wire, etc.) you can stand atop of a phone book and use a non-conducting material (wooden broomstick, rolled newspaper) to move the electrical source away or turn off the switch. Once the power source is removed, it should be safe to perform CPR on the victim.
4.Plastic Cup– When an object becomes lodged in the skin i.e. a pen, knife, or piece of glass, it should only be removed by a medical professional. To stabilize the object and prevent it from getting pushed further in, you can cover it with a plastic cup and hold the cup in place with a clean towel. Then go straight to the Emergency Room.
5. Credit Card– After an insect stings, they usually leave their stinger behind in the wound. What few people realize is that they often leave a sack of poison at the end of the stinger as well. To remove the stinger without smashing the sack and releasing the poison, use a credit card. The card can be used to scrape the stinger out cleanly– pushing firmly in the opposite direction of entry.
6. Clear glass cup– Meningitis can start with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting and muscle pain. Other signs can include cold hands and feet, stiff neck, pale blotchy skin, dislike of bright lights and seizures. Another sign of Meningitis is a rash that does not fade under pressure. Press a clear glass cup against the skin where the rash is, and if it does not fade under the pressure, seek medical attention quickly.
7. Clean Linens– Your freshly washed basket of sheets and towels can easily double as blood stopping devices in the case of a heavily bleeding wound. To reduce bleeding, cover the area with clean cloth and apply pressure. Don’t do this if there is an object lodged in the skin in that case, refer to #4!
8. Frozen Peas– When no ice pack is available, a bag of frozen peas (or any chopped vegetables for that matter) can serve as a cold compress for a sprained ankle or knee. The peas mould nicely around the area and provide cooling to reduce redness and inflammation.
9. Fruit Juice– Fast action can mean the difference between life and death for a diabetic with plunging sugar levels. Hypoglycemic attacks often display warning signs like sweating, feeling shaky and tingling in the lips. If these symptoms occur, it is important to stop the victim from losing consciousness, this can be accomplished by giving them a fast-acting carbohydrate, like fruit juice, honey, or jelly.
10. Aspirin– Most people have heard about the heart benefits of aspirin. Aspirin can help prevent clotting during a heart attack. If a person is displaying heart attack symptoms, chest pains, shortness of breath, tingling down the left arm and blue lips, get them to sit down and chew an aspirin– while you call 911.
While these are great tips for tight spots, there is no replacement for proper training. First Aid can help until someone loses consciousness or has a breathing emergency, after that only CPR training will help you help them. Get trained today!
Thanks to Oregon Red Cross and the Daily Express of London for information in this article.