September 28, 2023 10:04 AM

How To Manage Medical Emergencies At Home

World Patient Safety Day is celebrate on September 17 to increase public awareness and engagement and enhance global understanding. According to WHO, the theme for 2023 is “Engaging patients for patient safety” in recognition of the crucial role patients, families and caregivers play in the safety of health care.  Medical emergencies can occur anywhere and at any time. A timely medical aid can make a difference in patient outcome. At times, it may not be possible to get trained medical help but knowledge about first aid can definitely help in bridging this time gap.

In this article experts from different hospitals have shared their tips on how to manage medical emergencies at home.

How To Manage Medical Emergencies At Home And School?

Dr. Sandeep Jain, who is the Associate Director and Head- Emergency at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket shared the following tips:

  • Unconscious person: Whenever you witness an unconscious person, always call for help / ambulance before providing first aid. Check his breathing—look at chest rise with every breath. If he is breathing, turn him to sideways position and await medical help. If he is not breathing, check his carotid pulse in neck. If that too is absent, start Cardio- pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). For providing CPR, place patient in flat position, interlock your hands and place heel of your palm on center of victim’s breast bone. Start compressing hard and fast for 2 min before checking response of victim. Never give anything to drink to unconscious victim.
  • Bleeding wounds: Whenever a bleeding wound is encountered, wash under tap water if possible, and then apply any clean cloth or bandage over the wound tightly. If bleeding does not stop, elevate the part and seek medical help.
  • Sprains and fracture: Any part of limb with swelling, pain and difficulty in moving is suspected of sprains/fractures. Make the patient rest, apply ice packs and immobilize with any hard material like wood, cardboard or pack of newspapers and seek medical help
  • Heart attack: Any person complaining of central chest pain moving to left or right arm, to jaw or shoulder, associated with sweating, weakness or vomiting is suspected to be having heart attack. Most important is to calmly sit down the patient, provide Aspirin tablet (if not allergic) and shift patient to the nearest hospital with cardiac facilities immediately.
  • Stroke: Any patient reporting with sudden onset weakness of any part of body, slurring of speech, deviation of mouth and imbalance while walking may have suffered stroke. Shift him/her to nearest stroke ready hospital immediately.
  • Seizures/ fits: Most fits settle by themselves within a minute or two. While the patient is having seizures, support him to a comfortable position, loosen his clothes and remove anything from his surroundings which can injure him. After the fits have subsided, seek immediate medical help.

Simple Tools That Can Help During A Medical Emergency:

Having simple tools at home that can assist during a medical emergency is crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of your family and loved ones. While it’s important to note that professional medical help should always be sought in serious situations, these basic tools can help you manage minor injuries or provide immediate care until help arrives. 

Dr. P Shiva Kumar, who is a Sr. Consultant and Head of Department (Emergency Medicine), at CARE Hospitals, Hi-Tec City, Hyderabad, shared the essential tools you should have at home for medical emergencies.

1. First Aid Kit: A well-equipped first aid kit is a fundamental tool for handling minor injuries. You can purchase a pre-made kit or assemble one yourself. A basic first aid kit should include:

  • Sterile gauze and bandages of various sizes
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes or solution
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Disposable gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Instant cold packs
  • Pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Antihistamines for allergic reactions
  • CPR face shield or barrier mask
  • First aid manual or instructions

2. Thermometer: A digital thermometer is essential for monitoring body temperature, especially in situations like fever or hypothermia. It’s crucial to have an accurate reading to determine the severity of an illness.

3. Tweezers and Scissors: Tweezers are helpful for removing splinters or foreign objects from the skin. Scissors can be used to cut clothing away from an injury or to trim bandages.

4. Adhesive Bandages: These are useful for covering small cuts, blisters, or abrasions. Various sizes and shapes are available to suit different wounds.

5. Antiseptic Wipes or Solution: These are essential for cleaning wounds to prevent infection. Use them before applying a bandage or dressing.

6. Sterile Gauze and Dressings: These are used to cover larger wounds or burns. They help keep the wound clean and protect it from further damage.

7. Ace Bandage or Elastic Bandage: These are useful for supporting injured joints like wrists, ankles, or knees. They help stabilize the area and reduce movement, which can alleviate pain.

8. Disposable Gloves: Wearing gloves is essential when providing first aid to prevent the spread of infection. They also protect you from contact with bodily fluids.

9. CPR Face Shield or Barrier Mask: In case of cardiac arrest, having a barrier mask or face shield can help provide rescue breaths while protecting both the rescuer and the victim from potential contamination.

10. Flashlight: In emergencies, good lighting is crucial. A flashlight with extra batteries can help you assess injuries, locate supplies, or navigate in the dark during power outages.

11. Emergency Blankets: These foil or Mylar blankets are compact and retain body heat. They are useful for treating shock or keeping someone warm in cold weather.

12. Digital Blood Pressure Monitor: Monitoring blood pressure at home can be helpful for individuals with hypertension or other cardiovascular conditions. It allows you to track changes and share data with healthcare providers.

13. Over-the-Counter Medications: Having basic pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and reduce fever. However, always follow dosing instructions carefully.

14. Prescription Medications: If you or a family member requires prescription medications regularly, keep a supply on hand in case you’re unable to access a pharmacy during an emergency.

15. Emergency Contact Information: Maintain a list of emergency contacts, including family members, neighbours, and healthcare providers. Include medical histories, allergies, and current medications for all household members.

16. Fire Extinguisher: While not a medical tool, a fire extinguisher can be vital in emergencies, especially if a medical situation results from a fire or other household accident.

17. Phone and Charger: Ensure your phone is charged and keep a backup charger handy. Being able to call for help is essential in any emergency.

18. Medication Organizer: If you or a family member takes multiple medications daily, use a medication organizer to keep them organized and ensure they are taken correctly.

19. Allergy Kit: If someone in your household has severe allergies, keep an EpiPen or other prescribed medication readily accessible.

20. Automated External Defibrillator (AED): While not a simple tool and more commonly found in public places, having an AED at home can be lifesaving in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, especially if someone in your household has a known heart condition.

Talking about a few more items, Dr. Zubin Pereira, who is a Facility Director, at SRCC-NH Children‘s Hospital, Mumbaila said, “Having a supply of over-the-counter pain relievers can provide quick relief for minor ailments. For minor injuries, an ice pack can reduce swelling, while a heating pad can ease muscle aches.”

Remember, it’s not just about having these tools but also knowing how to use them. Consider taking a basic first aid and CPR course to ensure you can provide effective care during medical emergencies. Regularly check and update your supplies and involve all household members in emergency preparedness plans so that everyone knows where to find these tools and how to use them when needed. Ultimately, being prepared can make a significant difference in the outcome of a medical emergency, even when professional help is on the way.


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