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4 first-aid tips all families must remember

February 15, 2016,

Your home may be your fortress, but that doesn't mean you're always safe within its confines. Between random accidents and everyday chores, it's easy to injure yourself without ever stepping foot outside. For instance, one-third of all emergency room visits are the result of home and recreation-related injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, many at-home injuries don't have to turn into lengthy trips to a doctor as long as you know how to properly treat this bumps, bruises and contusions. Here are four first-aid tips every family should remember:

"Fall-related injuries at home represent a third of all ER visits."

1. Prepare a kit
The first component of proper first aid is ensuring you've got a kit on hand at all times. According to the American Red Cross, the most effective first-aid kits include compress dressings, a space blanket, cold compresses, packets of aspirin, adhesive cloth tape, several sizes of bandages, scissors, gauze, tweezers, a flashlight, thermometer, antibiotic ointment and any prescription medications for each family member. It's important that you check the kit regularly and replace items that appear worn or damaged. Always keep your kit in a place that's readily accessible.

2. Opened and then closed
When it comes to treating wounds, there are two prevailing schools of thoughts. The first says to cover the injury with a bandage or other dressing, which protects and insulates the site from bacteria and irritants. The other says to leave the wound wide open, as increased oxygen can improve healing rates. As pointed out, both approaches together result in optimal healing. Once a scab has formed, you can then remove the bandage, and the fresh air should help to further speed up the healing process.

3. Place a little pressure
Whether you're dealing with a bleeding wound or someone in need of resuscitation, most first-aid experts will tell you that deliberate motions are the most effective way to help others while also preventing subsequent harm. Most medical experts say that it takes just a few pounds of constant pressure to stop most bleeds. That means there is no need to press down with too much force; if anything you may injure the person further. Similarly, you should take a kid glove approach when performing CPR. That means utilizing slow, deliberate movements, breathing into the victim at a normal pace and ensuring his or her head and limbs are all positioned properly to minimize harm. 

4. Know when to seek help
No matter the kit you've prepared or how much experience you've acquired, there are certain wounds that are just beyond your purview as a non-medical professional. For instance, if a wound hasn't closed within two weeks, it's a good idea to seek the aid of a doctor. If there is excessive bleeding or damage to the bone or muscle, first aid should be only a temporary stop-gap before heading out for medical assistance. Certain injuries - like head trauma - will also need to be checked out by a doctor.

When first aid isn't enough, there is always a nearby CareWell Urgent Care Center to visit. With facilities all across the East Coast, CareWell's expert team of physicians can treat any number of injuries, from minor bug bites and dislocations to most kinds of burns and bone fractures.

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