Baby Care

First aid tips to note during emergencies

First aid is the immediate assistance given to a person who is injured or ill until full medical treatment is available. The purposes of administering first aid are to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, and enhance recovery.

For minor conditions, first aid care may be enough but when it involves a serious accident or medical emergency, it should be continued until more advanced care becomes available.

The founder of a non-governmental organisation, Ogbemudia Uwoghiren, said many Nigerians lacked basic first aid skills.

“This dearth of first aid knowledge has led to an increase in death rate during times of emergencies and a poor ranking of Nigeria’s health sector which is 140 out of 190 countries,” he added.

A general practitioner at a Lagos-based clinic, Dr Olaleye Oluwasanmi, said, “Although medical professionals are trained in medical first aid, it is a skill that every citizen should endeavour to learn because it can make a difference between life and death.”

For a paediatric nurse, Mrs Tolulope Awopetu, it is important for parents to have basic knowledge of how to follow lifesaving steps if their children are injured or faced with a medical emergency.

She said, “A number of conditions which parents take to hospitals may have been well taken care of if the knowledge of first aid is widespread and adopted at the moment the injury occurred.”

Highlighted below are ways first aid may be administered during medical emergencies.


To administer first aid, first wear a disposable glove and rinse the wound with water.

“Next, dress the wound by covering it with gauze or cloth and applying direct pressure on it to stop the bleeding. Elevate the bleeding body part above the person’s head and remove the gauze or cloth once the bleeding stops. Put a bandage on the wound,” Awopetu said.

Choking infant

Choking in infants is often caused by breathing in a small object that the baby has placed in their mouth, such as a coin, watch battery, button or toy part. It could also be caused by food or an object blocking the windpipe in adults.

The paediatric nurse, Awopetu, said the infant should be placed face down and supported with the lap or upper thigh.

Hold their chest in your hand and jaw between your fingers and ensure that the baby’s head is pointed down, so it is lower than his or her body. With the heel of your free hand, give five forceful blows to the baby’s back between the shoulder blades.

Broken bone

Oluwasanmi stated that one common mistake some people make is to attempt to straighten out a broken or fractured bone when the injury occurs.

“This is wrong. Don’t try to straighten out the bone. What should be considered is if the fractured area is a limb. If it is, it should be padded with a splint to elevate it or hold it in a still position.

“Carefully put a cold pack on the injury. If you don’t have a cold pack or only ice is available, put it in a plastic bag and wrap it in a shirt or towel before applying it,” Oluwasanmi said.


There are three major types of burns: first, second, and third-degree burns. First-degree burns affect the outermost layer (epidermis) of the skin and result in swelling.

Second-degree burns affect both the epidermis and dermis, while third-degree burn affects deeper skin layers and are considered major.

Awopetu said, “If the particular burn is not an emergency, the burned area can be flushed with cool running water for several minutes and a light gauze bandage.

“If the burn is minor, you can apply a mild ointment before you cover it. If it is a major burn, it is best taken to the hospital emergency.”


Nosebleeds are commonly caused by trauma to the nose, high altitudes, allergies, high blood pressure, blowing the nose too often or inhaling certain chemicals.

Oluwasanmi said, “Let the person lean slightly forward, not back. Pinch his or her nose just below the bridge. It needs to be high enough that the nostrils are not pinched closed.

“After five minutes, check to see if the bleeding has stopped. If not, continue pinching and check after another 10 minutes. Apply a cold pack to the bridge of the nose while pinching.”


Sprains are injuries to the connective tissues that hold bones, cartilage and joints together. They are most often caused when the twisting of a joint overstretches or tears these tissues and they tend to happen in the ankles and wrists.

The symptoms of a sprain are similar to those of a broken bone and these are common injuries children could have while playing games on the field.

“Keep the limb as still as possible and apply a cold pack. Ensure that the injured part is elevated and you can apply an ointment for treating sprains, which is available,” Awopetu stated.

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