September 12, 2023

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Personal health preparedness can save lives. Don’t wait until an emergency happens. Refresh your knowledge about lifesaving techniques and make sure you can use emergency equipment. 

Lifesaving Skills

  • First Aid: The risk for injury during and after an emergency is high. Prompt first aid can help heal small wounds and prevent infection. Keep a well-stocked and maintained first-aid kit that includes an emergency first-aid reference guide. Take care of wounds and seek medical attention when needed.
  • Severe Bleeding: Blood loss can lead to death within five minutes. If you are a bystander to a medical emergency, you can help until professional help arrives. The Department of Homeland Security provides information, so you know what to do in a bleeding emergency, including how to apply a tourniquet.
  • Choking: Fast action can save the life of someone who is choking. Young children are especially at high risk of choking. They can choke on foods like hot dogs and grapes, and small objects like toy pieces and coins. The National Library of Medicine can help you learn when and how to do back blows and perform abdominal thrusts.
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): If someone’s breathing or heart stops, CPR can save a life. The American Red Cross offers online and in-person CPR training classes for individuals and organizations.
  • Seizure: Seizures are fairly common. One day, you might need to help someone during or after a seizure. Check to see if the person is wearing a medical bracelet or other emergency information. Learn what you can do to keep someone safe during and after a seizure.

Using Equipment

  • Automated External Defibrillator (AED): AEDs can help save lives during sudden cardiac arrest. AEDs give step-by-step voice instructions, but training is still recommended. Classes teach you to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest, when to call emergency medical services, how to administer CPR, and how to use an AED.
  • Fire Extinguisher: Use fire extinguishers on small fires only. When operating a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS: Pull the pin; Aim low at the base of the fire; Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly; and Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
  • Portable Generator: Portable generators produce a poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO). Take care when operating a generator and know the dangers of CO poisoning. Place the generator outdoors at least 20 feet away from any window, door, or vent. Operate the generator in a dry area and use a back-up CO detector.

Taking Action

  • Shelter in Place: Sometimes the best way to stay safe in an emergency is to stay inside a building or vehicle. Where you should stay can be different for different types of emergencies. Be informed about the types of emergencies most common in your area and ways officials share emergency information.
  • Turn off Utilities: Household utilities can pose potential health and safety threats after an emergency. Know where and how to turn them off in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Contact your utility providers with questions.
  • Wash Hands: Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can help stop the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections. Follow these five steps to wash your hands the right way, including during an emergency.
  • Call 9-1-1: Make sure everyone in your family knows how to dial 9-1-1. Prepare to answer questions about yourself, your location, and the emergency. Your answers help the call -taker get the right kind of help to you. Don’t hang up until the call -taker instructs you to do so. Many 9-1-1 centers can tell you how to help until professional help arrives.

Additional Resources

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30329 

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800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: 888-232-6348