Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Most Common Medical Emergencies in the Home and How to Deal with Them

Emergencies can happen without a moment’s notice. In those times’ it can be very difficult to know what to do and how to react as emotions run high and panic can set in. Waiting until those moments happen in order to come up with an action plan is never a good idea. Instead, it’s wise to prepare yourself for a few of the most common medical emergencies that can occur. Being prepared may not just save your own life - it could also save the life of a loved one.

So, what are the most common medical emergencies that may occur in your home, and how should you deal with them? Let’s take a closer look.

Ingesting Poisonous or Hazardous Materials

This particular medical emergency applies more to parents than anyone else. While you may not think you have a lot of hazardous materials in the home, chances are good that once you start to look around you'll be quite surprised.

Things such as fertilizer, makeup, antifreeze, cleaning products, alcohol, lead paint, and medications (prescription and non-prescription) can all prove to be extremely poisonous and dangerous in the hands of children. This is exactly why prevention is key, which means keeping any hazardous or poisonous product up high and out of reach of kids, or better yet, locked up.

Children should also be taught that these products are all extremely dangerous and should never drink or eat them. Should a child come across one of these items that isn’t stored away, they need to know that they shouldn’t touch it and instead should tell an adult right away.

Should these items be ingested, you will need to call the poison control number immediately, and likely 911. It's also a very good idea to have proper CPR training and hold your CPR and First Aid certification, as well proper training in the Heimlich maneuver. Each of these can end up saving a person’s life.


Choking can happen at any time to an adult or a child. This is a very scary situation where your response time can mean the difference between life and death. It's important to first determine if it is just mild choking or severe choking. If it is mild choking, you will want to encourage the person to cough in order to get rid of the partial blockage.

If a person's airways are just partially blocked, they will still be able to breathe, cough, cry, and/or speak. Encourage them to spit out whatever it is, and continue to cough. There is no need to stick your fingers in their mouth. In these situations, it's usually unnecessary to call 911.

If a person is severely choking then they won't be able to breathe, cough, cry, or speak - coughing it out won't be possible. If the person doesn't receive immediate help, they will lose consciousness fairly quickly. It's best to call 911 immediately and start to administer the Heimlich manoeuvre. Should they lose consciousness and stop breathing before medical responders arrive, you will need to administer CPR.


There are all kinds of different levels of bleeding, so this particular situation can be a non-emergency or an emergency. The severity of the situation will depend on how deep the cut is and where the cut is located. Sometimes, a cut that isn't terribly deep can end up being an emergency just because of where it's located. There are also certain areas of your body that bleed a lot more than others, including your nose, toes, fingers, and scalp. An extreme quantity of blood in these areas is enough to make most people panic, but it’s important to remain calm in these situations.

Unless you are a medical professional, it's pretty hard to tell how serious the cut is and whether the bleeding is life-threatening. Obviously, there will be some cuts and scrapes that you can just clean up at home and apply a bandage, but if you feel scared by the amount of blood or where the cut is, it's best to seek help. You can either go to the hospital or call 911.

Chest Pain

This particular issue seems to have received more attention as of late and people are starting to understand that the faster you respond, the better the outcome. Chest pain should never be brushed off or ignored, no matter how young or old the person is. Experts recommend that any type of chest pain be treated as a heart attack until proven otherwise by medical professionals.

When someone complains of chest pain, a call should be placed to 911 immediately. From there you want to check on their breathing and make sure they are able to still catch a breath. It's best to have them lay down and position their head with the chin pointing up, make sure the tongue is out of the way so it can't be swallowed. If they aren't breathing, CPR will be necessary.

For the person who is experiencing chest pain but is still breathing, it can be a very scary experience. Talking to them and keeping them calm will help to keep things under control until first responders arrive.

Dizziness and Fainting

This particular medical emergency is more common than you may think. While mild dizziness may not point to anything too severe, it's still important to keep an eye out and watch if it is getting worse. Should the person feel dizzy, ill, and weak, it's important to call 911 immediately. They may even end up fainting, depending on the cause. Things that can cause dizziness and fainting include low blood sugar, diabetes, a heart condition, a heart attack, pregnancy, and heatstroke.

While you are waiting for responders to arrive you want to be watching that they are still breathing okay and what their level of alertness is. Talking to them, asking them simple questions, and watching their chest to be sure it's rising and falling is ideal. Should they stop breathing, it will be necessary to administer CPR.

The Basic Takeaways

These are just a few of the most common medical emergencies that can happen in your home, either to you or a loved one. Going through each of these medical issues, it becomes clear that there are a few main takeaways, which are:

Learn lifesaving techniques: A number of these situations require you to either perform CPR or the Heimlich maneuver. This means you need to have taken a course and have your certification. Keep in mind something such as CPR will require you to become re-certified every two years.
Stay calm and in control: Emergency situations are extremely stressful and scary, but it’s very important you stay calm and in control. You need to be able to answer questions from medical personnel and take the proper steps while waiting for them to arrive.

When in doubt, call 911: You should never feel as though a medical emergency isn’t big enough or severe enough to call 911. If you are scared or you are in doubt about what you should do, call 911 immediately. Let the medical responders decide what is an “emergency” and what isn’t. Remember, they have the training, they have the experience and knowledge, so let them do their job.

By having a medical emergency action plan in place, you will be that much better prepared to handle one of these situations in your home should one occur. Your quick response could just save your life or someone else’s.

This is a guest blog entry.

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