Every adult should have basic first-aid knowledge - here are 6 life-saving tips to get you started

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Every adult should have basic first-aid knowledge.
Every adult should have basic first-aid knowledge.
Photo: Iuliia Bondar/Getty Images
  • Would you know what to do if you were caught in an emergency situation?
  • It is important for every adult to know how to perform basic first-aid skills like CPR, the Heimlich manoeuvre and more.
  • It's also important to understand what not to do in an emergency.
  • Here are six basic first-aid procedures everyone should know.


You've probably seen it in films and series dozens of times - people performing basic first-aid skills like CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or the Heimlich manoeuvre.  

But if you were caught in an emergency, would you know what to do? Would you know what not to do?

Every adult should be equipped with basic first-aid knowledge. This includes knowing things like how to help a person who is choking, lower a fever, treat poisonings, tend to minor cuts and burns, alleviate insect stings and bites and stop nosebleeds.

It's also important to understand what not to do in an emergency situation - such as moving someone with a suspected spinal or head injury.

South African emergency service numbers you should know include:

  • Nationwide emergency response: 10111
  • Cellphone emergency contact: 112
  • Ambulance: 10177

Six basic first-aid procedures can be performed by following these steps:

1. Bleeding:

To help stop bleeding, place a towel or cloth over the wound and press down firmly.

2. Burns:

Cool, running water should be used to flush a burn for several minutes. Avoid ice, ointment, oil or butter. Afterwards, cover the wound in light gauze.

READ MORE | CPR video call service could help you save a life - here's how it works

3. Fractures:

Never try to realign a fracture. Instead, use a splint or padding to immobilise it.

4. Nosebleeds:

For a nosebleed, tilt the patient's head forward (not back) and pinch the area beneath the bridge of the nose. Hold this position and check every 10 minutes to see if the bleeding has stopped.

5. Bee stings:

If the stinger is present, scrape it away from the skin before applying a cool compress to reduce swelling. Monitor the patient for signs of anaphylaxis, such as hives, redness or itching on other regions of their body, as well as difficulty breathing.

READ MORE | Paramedic shares why you should never put your fingers in a baby's mouth if they're choking

6. CPR:

CPR is a complex training procedure and should only be used if there are no visible signs of life, or a person is unconscious, not breathing, or not breathing normally.

Note: It is important to assess the severity of an injury and seek medical help immediately if the situation is deemed potentially life-threatening. In cases where you are uncertain of how to proceed, it's also best to seek the help of a medical professional.

First-aid essentials:

Having a fully equipped first-aid kit is essential. To obtain the necessary knowledge in basic first-aid or to brush up on what is already understood about the practices, attending a first-aid course is recommended.


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