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4 First Aid Hacks to Remember in a Pinch


There are plenty of quick-and-dirty first aid hacks out there. Here are a few that actually work — and one that doesn’t.

If you want a job in healthcare, you’ll learn how to do things by the book … and, you’ll also learn some less orthodox ways of solving problems. There are plenty of folk remedies out there, and you’ll likely see the gamut of patients who’ve tried them themselves. Some work and some don’t.

One thing to keep in mind: What follows isn’t medical advice. It’s merely a rundown of some common folk remedies for common problems and whether or not they have even a little merit. While some of these might get you out of a bad situation where you need fast results, real first aid or medical attention is certainly always the better choice.

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1. Don’t “rub some dirt on it”

First, a bit on what not to do: Don’t rub dirt in your wounds. Plenty of us have heard the phrase “just rub some dirt on it” when someone gets a cut or scrape. But don’t actually do that.

While dirt might stop bleeding, it’s also, well, dirt. Pathogens in the soil could easily cause infection and inflammation, so it’s best to keep soil out of open wounds. Keep cuts and scrapes clean, and treat them with bandages if necessary.

Or, if you’re also hurting for those, super glue.

2. Glue for cuts and splinters

Should you use super glue on cuts? Probably not. If possible, wash them out and bind them with bandages or seek medical attention. But, if you’re in a bind, you can super glue a cut together. Obviously this is not ideal. But, super glue can close cuts, probably won’t hurt you, and could be a useful thing to have in your first aid kit.

Cuts aren’t the only things that adhesives are good for, though. Glue can also pry out splinters. Put a dab of paper glue onto a splinter, let it dry, and then gently peel it off. It won’t necessarily be painless, but it will get the splinter out.

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3. Duct tape

Duct tape does just about everything! It can even be useful at home if you’re dealing with a minor medical situation. While it theoretically can work as a bandage, it’s probably more useful as makeshift medical tape to bind them. The sticky side can also remove splinters and (this is gross, sorry) ticks. Ironically, though, there’s one thing it’s not so good at: Duct tape is not good at sealing ducts.

4. Homemade hot and cold packs

Hot and cold packs are a common element of many first aid kits, but it can be very easy to run out of these or forget them altogether. Cold packs might sound straightforward, but it’s generally not a good idea to put a bag of ice cubes on an injury.

Instead, fill a plastic bag with three parts water and one part rubbing alcohol. This will prevent it from freezing entirely and give you a softer, pliable cold pack. Put that in a sock or a rag and you’re good to go. For hot packs, put some uncooked rice in an old sock and microwave it for about one or two minutes. Put that sock in the matching sock for an insulating layer to prevent burns.

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