21 Life-Saving Skills You Should Know

In daily life you should know these life-saving skills, however when you go travelling or to foreign lands it can become even more imperative that you know these. Hopefully none of these skills will be needed and none of the events occur but it is very important that you understand what to do when you are faced with a situation from a minor first aid scenario to a full blown emergency. Below you will find our top skills and later read about some of our real-life scenarios we have been unfortunate to find ourselves caught up in.

First aid

I first learned first aid when I was sixteen and working in a children's play centre, now being cabin crew every year I have first aid courses and exams to sit.

The basic first aid that everyone should know is immediate care, bandages, stemming blood flow, performing CPR and how to treat someone choking.

The principe of immediate care is to assess the situation and ensure you do no further harm and to give treatment within the scope of your skill level.

Know your ABC's- Always apply DRS ABC before treating any casualty.

D Danger assess the scene for any risks and safety of yourself, casualty and by-standers

R Response assess the casualty’s response by shaking their shoulders and loudly asking 'are you alright?'

(don't shake if spinal injury is suspected)

S Shout for help, by-standers can call emergency services

A Airway assess the casualty’s airway- The most common cause of upper airway obstruction is the tongue, other causes include fluids, debris or swelling. Tilt the casualty's head back and with your thumb open their mouth to their neck

B Breathing assess the casualty’s breathing. If the casualty is not breathing get them on the floor and start CPR

C Chest compressions (CPR)

CPR is the technique which could make all the difference for someone who has collapsed under cardiac arrest. Watch the video below for a full understanding, but basically, you want to apply 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths. To do chest compressions, tilt the casualty's head back and give 2 breaths through their mouth, kneel next to the unconscious casualty on a hard surface and place both your hands on top each other on his or her chest. Use your upper body weight (not just your arms) to compress the person's chest about two inches. Perform compressions at a rate of about 100 per minute until paramedics arrive or the person regains consciousness.

Open wound- A wound is bruising, grazes, lacerations, cuts, puncture or burns. When treating a wound, if possible wash your hands and use gloves, if not available then a plastic bag will suffice. For a minor wound If you can clean the wound with water then do and cover with a sterile dressing or even clothing. For a major wound after washing area, apply direct pressure to wound use clothing towels anything to hand to cover wound. When bandaging cover once, if blood soaks through apply a second bandage, if it soaks through again re-bandage. Lay the casualty flat with legs elevated and elevate the injured part above their heart. Leave any foreign body that may be embedded in a wound, as removing it may result in further bleeding or tissue damage.

A nose bleed can occur as a result of injury or spontaneously for no apparent reason, sit casualty down, leaning forward pinching the fleshy part of their nose.

Burns- Immerse the area in cold water for a least 10 minutes longer if possible (do not use ice). Gently remove any jewellery or constrictive clothing from the affected area before it begins to swell. Seek medical advice.

burnt my hand with boiling coffee

Fainting- Someone could faint due to dehydration others may be prone to fainting. If the casualty feels faint they should put their head down between their legs. If the casualty faints elevate their legs and take sips of water when they come around.

Choking- If an adult is choking and cannot breathe, the Heimlich maneuver can dislodge the foreign body responsible for the victim choking. Stand to the side of the casualty and slightly behind them, support the chest with one hand and lean the victim well forwards, give 5 sharp back blows between the shoulders blades with the heel of your hand, if back blows ineffective give abdominal thrusts by wrapping your arms around the back of the casualty and form a fist below the victim’s ribcage but above their navel, put the other hand on top of fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards 5 times, if ineffective keep repeating the cycle, if the casualty becomes unconscious begin CPR. (Note that infant and child Heimlich techniques differ from adults). Watch the video below for a clear guide on the Heimlich maneuver.


Rest - steady and support the injured area.

Ice - cold compress for at least twenty minutes.

Compress – use padding or bandage to apply gentle, even pressure.

Elevate - support the injured area and raise the injured limb.

Sharps- If you encounter a sharps injury apply warm soapy water and squeeze the area to rid of blood.

Anaphylaxis- Anaphylactic reaction is caused by a hypersensitivity to a substance to which the individual has previously been exposed.The body’s reaction causes the release of large quantities of histamine which makes the vessels leak resulting in sudden fluid loss and shock. Nut allergies and bee stings are the most common cause of an attack. I am allergic to animals and if in an enclosed area for a prolonged period of time I also can have bad attacks, if I haven't taken anti-histamine tablets. Signs and symptoms include a red blotchy skin rash,  Noisy breathing and tightening of the chest (wheezing).  A rapid weak pulse. Swelling of the upper body. Altered levels of consciousness.  Loosen tight clothing at the neck, chest and waist. Position the casualty flat with legs raised.  Keep the casualty warm. The medication for Anaphylactic Shock is the drug Adrenaline. It should be carried by the casualty in the form of an Epi-pen. To use take off the safety cap and push the pen into the casualty's thigh for 10 long seconds. I mention this one as if you are allergic to nuts it can be life threatening to be served dishes containing nuts, when abroad and there may be language barriers involved.

Hypothermia/ Hyperthermia- Hypothermia is when a body’s core temperature drops to the point where normal muscular and cerebral functions are impaired. People might be suffering from hypothermia if they start to shiver uncontrollably, lose coordination, become drowsy, or notice a slower breathing or heart rate. Treat hypothermia by bringing victims inside out of cold weather, removing any wet clothing, and wrapping them in blankets or a sleeping bag. Give them warm fluids without caffeine or alcohol to help stabilize their temperature.

Hyperthermia or heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature rises about 41°C. Move casualty to a cool environment and remove heavy clothing give sips of water.

Snake bite- Call the emergency services if there is a chance the snake is venomous, the person has difficulty breathing or if there is a loss of conciousness. Note the snakes appearance and be ready to describe it to emergency staff. Whilst waiting on help protect the person by moving away from striking distance of the snake, they should be lying down with the wound below the heart, keep them calm and at rest, and remaining still, this will prevent the venom from spreading. Cover the wound with a bandage if you have one, or with clothing. Try removing jewellery from the area and shoes if the leg or foot was bitten. DO NOT attempt to suck the venom out or cut it, don't use ice. At hospital if the snake was venomous an anti-venom shot will be given.

First aid kit- By having a basic first aid kit in your bag will feel like a life-saver, as when you are abroad the language barrier even in pharmacies can be daunting or even just embarrassing, have a small stock of plasters, bandages, immodium, bonjella, germolene, blister pads, tampons, paracetamol, anti-histamine always handy to stop a small issue becoming a bigger one.

Flight safety- "...In the unlikely event of ....'' After boarding every flight you will watch the flight attendants perform a safety demonstration ... this can save your life! Each aircraft is different and a few things you should be taking note are; where your emergency exits are- can you count the seat rows you are away from the exits- in a smoke filled cabin or if the aircraft crash lands at an unusual attitude this will help you. Ever wondered why they show you how to fasten your