Would you have reacted correctly?: These are the most common misconceptions in first aid


First aid is a crucial skill that everyone should possess. It can mean the difference between life and death in emergency situations. However, there are several misconceptions surrounding first aid that can hinder proper response and potentially worsen the situation. In this article, we will explore some of the most common misconceptions in first aid and provide accurate information to ensure you are well-prepared in case of an emergency.

Misconception 1: Tilt the head back during a nosebleed

One of the most common misconceptions in first aid is the belief that tilting the head back during a nosebleed is the correct response. However, this is not true. Tilting the head back can cause blood to flow down the throat, potentially leading to choking or aspiration. The correct way to handle a nosebleed is to have the person lean forward slightly and pinch their nostrils together. This helps to control the bleeding and prevents blood from entering the throat.

Misconception 2: Rubbing alcohol on a wound

Another common misconception is the use of rubbing alcohol to clean a wound. While it may seem logical to use alcohol to disinfect a wound, it can actually cause further damage to the tissue. Rubbing alcohol is too harsh and can delay the healing process. The best way to clean a wound is to use mild soap and water. Gently wash the area around the wound and pat it dry with a clean cloth. If necessary, apply an antiseptic ointment and cover the wound with a sterile bandage.

Misconception 3: Applying butter or oil to a burn

When it comes to burns, many people believe that applying butter or oil can help soothe the pain and promote healing. However, this is a dangerous misconception. Butter and oil can trap heat in the burn, making the injury worse. The correct way to treat a burn is to run cool water over it for at least 10 minutes. This helps to cool the burn and alleviate pain. Afterward, cover the burn with a sterile non-stick dressing or cling film and seek medical attention if necessary.

Misconception 4: Sucking out venom from a snake bite

It is a common belief that sucking out venom from a snake bite can help remove the poison and prevent it from spreading. However, this is not only ineffective but also dangerous. Sucking out venom can cause further damage to the wound and increase the risk of infection. The correct response to a snake bite is to keep the affected area still and below heart level, immobilize the limb, and seek immediate medical help. Do not try to remove the venom yourself.

Misconception 5: Using a tourniquet for bleeding

In movies and TV shows, we often see characters using a tourniquet to stop bleeding. However, this should only be done as a last resort. Applying a tourniquet can cut off blood flow to the affected area, leading to tissue damage and potentially requiring amputation. Instead, the correct way to control bleeding is to apply direct pressure to the wound using a clean cloth or bandage. Maintain pressure until medical help arrives.

Misconception 6: Giving water to someone having a seizure

During a seizure, it is important not to give the person anything to eat or drink, including water. Contrary to popular belief, giving water to someone having a seizure can cause them to choke. It is best to clear the area around the person, cushion their head, and wait for the seizure to pass. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or the person is injured, call for medical assistance immediately.

Misconception 7: Putting a spoon in someone’s mouth during a seizure

Another common misconception is the idea that putting a spoon or any other object in someone’s mouth during a seizure can prevent them from swallowing their tongue. However, this is not true. It is physically impossible to swallow one’s tongue during a seizure. Placing an object in the person’s mouth can cause injury to their teeth or jaw. Instead, focus on keeping the person safe by clearing the area and cushioning their head.


First aid is a vital skill that can save lives, but it is important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to responding to emergencies. The misconceptions discussed in this article are just a few examples of the many myths surrounding first aid. By educating ourselves and staying up-to-date with accurate information, we can ensure that we are prepared to react correctly in emergency situations. Remember, proper first aid can make a significant difference in the outcome of an emergency, so let’s debunk these misconceptions and be ready to provide effective assistance when needed.