Hygiene for First Aid

Hygiene for First Aid

washing hands is a great way maintain hygiene

When preparing to attend to a casualty, hygiene is very important for both the first aider and the casualty. It helps protect both parties from risk of infection through the transmission of biohazards.

There are several practical ways to keep yourself healthy and free of infection. In the age of COVID-19, this has become especially important.
Every First Aider needs to take precautions with all first aid situations. The use of gloves, glasses and facemasks will protect both you and the casualty from the risk of infection. Bodily fluids can penetrate the body through open wounds, sores, cuts, the mouth and the eyes.

Good hygiene includes not only personal cleanliness but also the age-old practice of covering your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze.

Many respiratory infections are spread by droplets that fall to the ground quickly but can infect persons that are nearby. Others cause airborne transmission in which tiny aerosol particles can travel for longer distances to infect others.

Many people do not realize that microbes can live on surfaces anywhere from a few minutes to several months at a time, depending on the environment and pathogen type. This means that some viruses and bacteria may be able to persist on surfaces you touch regularly, such as your computer keyboard, light switch, or a doorknob.
Something as simple as washing hands before and after treatment is of paramount importance for maintaining hygiene. Washing hands effectively is the number one way to stop infections in their tracks and can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections.

Hand-to-face and hand-to-mouth transmission are among the most common ways that infectious diseases are spread. To avoid those, routine handwashing is recommended to limit the exposure of the pathogen to your mouth, eyes, or nose.

Before Treatment

  • Always wear gloves if available take care not to touch any unclean object when wearing gloves or once hands are washed.
  • Wash hands with soap and water, or rinse with antiseptic.
  • Ensure that hands are washed thoroughly between fingers and under nails.
  • Use a protective cover over clothing.
  • Use safety glasses to protect the eyes.
  • Cover any adjacent areas likely to produce infection
  • Use a resuscitation mask if needed

During Treatment

  • Avoid contact with body fluids.
  • Avoid coughing, breathing, sneezing or speaking over the wound.
  • Avoid treating more than one casualty without changing gloves between each casualty.
  • Use a face shield or mask with a one-way-valve, if available, when doing active resuscitation.
  • Wash off any body fluids immediately.
  • If you are accidentally cut and there is blood from the casualty near or in your cut, wash the cut immediately with running water, cover the wound and seek medical advice.
  • Use only clean bandages and dressings.

After Treatment

  • Wash hands and disposes of gloves.
  • Clean up both casualty and yourself.
  • Wash facemasks and any contaminated equipment in bleach. Soak them in the bleach solution for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Clean up the immediate vicinity.
  • Dispose of dressings, bandages, gloves and soiled clothing correctly by burning.
  • Wash hands with soap and water even if gloves were used
In the event of contact with blood or body fluid:
  • If blood contact is made by a used needle stick:

– Allow the wound to bleed freely
– Wash thoroughly with soap and water

  • If blood/body fluids come into contact with your skin:

– Wash thoroughly with soap and running water

  • If blood comes into contact with a wound:

– wash with antiseptic, cover and seek medical advice immediately.

  • If eyes are contaminated:

– Rinse gently with water, making sure to wash under the eyelids

  • If mouth is contaminated:

– Spit out and rinse with cold running water
– Always seek medical advice for further treatment

Infection control when performing CPR

To avoid contact with potentially infectious bodily fluids such as blood or saliva, everyone with training in resuscitation is advised to carry a resuscitation mask in their purse, wallet or first aid kit.

This helps take the worry of infection out of helping someone in a life-threatening situation. These masks are available from first aid providers or from your pharmacy.


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