Basic First Aid Techniques

Aug 22, 2023 4 min

Empower yourself with basic first aid knowledge. Explore why first aid is important and first aid basics such as wound care and CPR.

minor burn first aid

Emergencies can happen at any time and to anyone. One of the most important skills we can acquire is basic first aid knowledge. 

In this article, we will explore the fundamental techniques of basic first aid that everybody should know. 

By being prepared and equipped with the right information, you can confidently handle common emergencies and provide immediate care when your loved ones need it most.

Why is First Aid Important?

Understanding basic first aid is a lifeline, especially in emergencies when every second counts. Fundamentally, basic first aid is the immediate, often temporary response and care administered to a person suffering from illness or injury, until professional medical help becomes available. 

This can range from cleaning and bandaging a superficial wound, to performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in life-threatening situations. 

This initial response is critical in determining the course and outcome of an emergency, hence the importance of understanding first aid basics cannot be overstated.

If you're a parent, having basic first aid knowledge is almost imperative. Children, with their innate curiosity and less developed risk assessment, are prone to accidents of varying degrees. Being well-versed in first aid basics allows parents to act promptly, mitigating the risks and potential severity of their child's injury. 

Understanding how to slow or stop bleeding, or how to respond to choking incidents, can make a significant difference in your child's health.

During emergencies, panic is a common response, often leading to ineffective actions or, in the worst cases, inaction. Yet, those armed with first aid basics can replace fear with action, and uncertainty with decisiveness. They can evaluate the situation and apply the necessary care with relative calmness and effectiveness.

Building a First Aid Kit 

A well-stocked first aid kit is a must-have for every household, especially those with young children. 

To learn more about essentials to include in your first aid kit, read our article, "Building an Effective First Aid Kit."

Wound Care and Bandaging

Stacks happen. Accidents resulting in wounds are common occurrences, particularly in active children. This section will teach you the proper techniques for wound care and bandaging.

Different Types of Wounds and their Classifications 

Understanding the different types of wounds can help you determine the appropriate care and treatment needed. Here are some common wound types and their classifications:

  • Abrasions: These are superficial wounds caused by scraping or rubbing against a rough surface. They usually involve the top layers of the skin and may result in bleeding and minor tissue damage.

  • Lacerations: Lacerations are deep cuts or tears in the skin and underlying tissues. They often occur from sharp objects or trauma and may require medical attention depending on their severity.

  • Punctures: Puncture wounds are caused by sharp objects that penetrate the skin, such as nails, needles, or animal bites. These wounds can introduce bacteria deep into the tissues and may require professional medical care to prevent infections.

Wound Care Basics

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser before touching the wound to prevent introducing bacteria.

  2. Gently clean the wound with mild soap and running water. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or iodine, as these can damage healthy tissues.

  3. Remove any debris or dirt from the wound using sterile tweezers, if necessary.

  4. Pat the wound dry with a clean, sterile gauze pad. Avoid rubbing the wound, as it can cause further damage.

  5. Apply an appropriate antiseptic solution. Learn more about the different antispetic solutions available.

  6. Cover the wound with a sterile dressing or bandage to protect it from dirt and further injury.

Treating Burns and Scalds 

Burns and scalds can happen in a flash, from a splash of hot liquid to an accidental touch of a hot surface. 

Recognising the severity of burns, which can range from first-degree (superficial) to third-degree (deep) burns, is vital to determine the appropriate course of action. 

Symptoms of burns can range from redness and minor inflammation in the case of first-degree burns to blistering and severe pain (or lack of it due to nerve damage) in third-degree burns.

Upon encountering burn injuries, your immediate action should focus on cooling the burn to relieve pain and prevent further skin damage. 

This can be achieved by running cool water over the burned area for 20 minutes within 3 hours post injury, keeping the injured person warm to prevent hypothermia. Always seek professional medical help if you are unsure, the burn is larger than a 20 cent piece, or is a deep or severe burn.

Do not use home remedies such as butter, or iced water or ice on burns, as these may cause more harm than good.

Treating Fractures and Sprains

Fractures and sprains are common injuries, especially in active children. Recognising these injuries involves identifying symptoms such as pain, swelling, and in more severe cases, inability to move the affected limb. 

Fractures often cause more severe pain and possible visible dislocation or bone protrusion, while sprains typically result in swelling and pain during movement.

The initial first aid for fractures and sprains involves stabilising the injured area. Immobilising the limb can prevent further injury and alleviate pain. Use of a sling for arm injuries or splints for leg injuries are typical methods of immobilisation. 

Applying a cold pack can help reduce swelling, while over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage pain.

Always seek professional medical help if you are unsure and especially for fractures.

CPR: an Overview

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, better known as CPR, is a life-saving technique used in emergencies such as near-drownings. 

CPR techniques slightly vary based on the age of the individual – infants, children, and adults. For all age groups, however, if the person is unresponsive, call for medical help immediately (call Triple Zero 000). 

It is a good idea to complete a First Aid CRP course or a refresher course if it some time has passed since you last completed one. Completing a first aid course helps to provide peace of mind should something happen to you or your loved ones.

For infants, the chest compressions should be performed with two fingers in the middle of the chest, compressing about 4cm deep at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute. Two rescue breaths should follow every 30 compressions. 

In children and adults, use the heel of your hand (two hands for adults) to perform compressions in the middle of the chest, pressing about 6cm deep in children and at least 6cm in adults, followed by two rescue breaths after every 30 compressions.

Try to achieve five sets of 30:2 in about two minutes (or 100-120 compressions per minute).

Choking: Response and Prevention

Choking incidents, particularly in children, often result from small objects or improperly chewed food. The first step in addressing choking is recognising the signs which include inability to speak, difficulty breathing, and blue discoloration of the face. 

In children above one year of age and adults, encourage the patient to relax and to cough to remove the object. 

If coughing does not remove the blockage, bend the patient well forward and with the heel of one hand give up to five sharp blows on the back between the shoulder blades. Check that the blockage has been removed after each blow.

If coughing or the sharp blows do not remove the blockage call for an ambulance (call Triple Zero 000).

If the blockage has not cleared after five back blows, give up to five chest thrusts by placing one hand for support on the patient’s back and thrusting the heel of the other on the lower half of the sternum. Check that the blockage has been removed after each thrust.

Continue alternating five back blows with five chest thrusts until professional medical help arrives.

Preventive measures for choking hazards are just as important as knowing how to respond to a choking incident. 

To minimise the risk of choking, be mindful of small objects that children can easily access and put into their mouths. Ensure food is cut into small, manageable pieces that a child can easily chew and swallow. 

Childproofing your home, which includes securing small objects and maintaining a clean floor, can also significantly reduce choking hazards.


Remember, these are basic first aid skills and should not replace formal first aid training. For both CPR and handling choking incidents, formal training provides the hands-on practice needed to effectively perform these life-saving techniques.