First-Aid: Medical Safety

Medicines are piaying an increasingly important role in maintaining the health of individuals, in today’s jet age.


It is a must that every house has a first-aid box. It is imperative that this box is not kept locked in a cupboard. Keys are the worst things to find in an emergency. It is also important that all the people in the house be given a basic training in first-aid.

Important phone numbers of all members of the household, police, doctor, hospital, ambulance, fire-brigade, relatives and friends, and immediate neighbours should be readily available.

When people from one state or country move to another, it is likely that the family members may not know the language of the adopted place. If this is the case, they will not be able to talk to the neighbours or the police. In such cases, they should rehearse a few phrases to use in an emergency so as to be able to give the person at the other end of the telephone line some idea of the emergency situation, the location of the house, and also say that the caller cannot answer any questions since he does not know the language. It would be ideal if some mock exercises are conducted as to how to make an emergency phone call during a hypothetical emergency situation.

Everyone in the house should know what to do should someone get hurt. The injuries can be of several types : burns, electric shock, accidental poisoning, drug overdose, cuts by sharp-edged items, fall resulting in a fracture, heart attack, epileptic attack, etc.

One should know who to contact (doctor, hospital, etc.) in case of an emergency, and other preliminary steps to be taken. These steps would of course depend upon the extent of the injury as well as the experience of the rescuer. One should also know what to do if the phone does not work, if the doctor is away, etc. All the steps should be reviewed after they have been used to handle an emergency, and any shortfalls removed.

Minimum essential information about each person in the household should be kept handy. It should be kept in the wallet/ purse of the person, in the house, office, and with the family doctor. This should include the names of medication being taken regularly, the diseases (diabetes, heart problems, etc.) one might be suffering from, blood group, allergies, any special conditions, etc.


Many bottles look alike. So do read the labels before using any medicine.

All medicines, when used in excess, or in incompatible combinations, or with any prohibited physical activity, may lead to life-threatening situations. Sometimes an out-of-date medicine may do harm rather than good. This applies to all medicines including vitamins, sleeping pills, even herbal and folk medicines, etc.

Vitamins for children are often sugar-coated. Children may take a large dose assuming them to be candy. This can be very dangerous. Keep all medicines away from the reach of children.

Fancy coloured pills and medicine containers attract children right from the time they begin to crawl. Keep all such items out of their reach.

Do not drink medicine directly from the bottle since you may ingest more than required.

A thermometer is a useful aid in the diagnosis of fever and to follow its course of treatment. It can, however, be catastrophic if it breaks in the mouth and the patient swallows some of the mercury. Hence, when using it with children or with a patient who is sleepy or prone to epileptic attacks or violent temper, one should be very careful and vigilant. In case of accidental swallowing of the mercury, the patient needs an emergency stomach wash in a hospital and no time should be lost in contacting a doctor.

The medicine cabinet should be cleaned once a year. Destroy and drain away all old, expired medicines as well as those that are no longer needed.

There are several medicines that come in squeeze tubes like toothpaste. Do not keep medicine and toothpaste in the same place, lest the medicine be mistaken for the paste or vice-versa.

When you have guests visiting, be extra careful. They may leave their medicine on a table or in an easily accessible handbag where children can get to them.

Inoculations and vaccinations should be done as advised by your doctor. If there are pets in the house, every one should be inoculated against their bites and scratches. Tetanus shot on a regular basis is very helpful. Blood transfusion is a life-saving measure. With the spread of diseases like hepatitis and AIDS, thorough testing of blood to be transfused is necessary. Alternatively, one may donate one’s own blood over a period of one or two weeks prior to surgery and let that blood be used for transfusion.

Burns can be caused by a fire, chemicals, steam, electricity, or hot liquids. The burns area should be cooled by cold water for sufficient time so as to remove the heat from inside the flesh too. The victim should be protected from infection by not removing his burnt clothing and by not touching the blistered skin. Get medical help immediately.

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