First Aid: Fact or Fiction?

Updated: Apr. 06, 2020

You Can Call 911 on a Cell phone That Isn’t Activated Fact. Cell phone companies are required by law to

You Can Call 911 on a Cell phone That Isn’t Activated

Fact. Cell phone companies are required by law to put 911 calls through from any phone that has power and can receive a signal. For this reason, an old cell phone is an excellent addition to the first-aid kits you keep in your car and boat (remember to recharge the battery from time to time). Just be aware that because there is no number assigned to the phone, there’s no way for 911 to reach you should you be disconnected; you’ll have to redial.

Seizure Victims Can Swallow Their Tongues

Fiction. Despite what Hollywood has taught us, it’s physically impossible to swallow one’s own tongue, and forcing your fingers or a spoon or spatula into someone’s mouth is only going to injure you and the victim. At times, a seizure sufferer may sound like he’s gagging on his tongue, but by rolling him onto his side, you’ll help keep his airways clear.

If Someone with a Head Injury Falls Asleep, They Could Go into a Coma

Fiction. The only reason to keep a person with a head injury awake is to observe her symptoms, say the experts at the American College of Emergency Physicians. And if you’re too worried about the victim’s symptoms to let her go to sleep, then you should take her to the ER. Otherwise, wish her good night and sweet dreams.

Rabies Requires a Series of Painful Shots to the Stomach

Fiction. Though you will get a series of injections, the treatment is far less distasteful these days. Remarkably, there’s still no cure for rabies, and once an infection sets in, it’s almost always fatal. The shots you’ll get are antiviral: They’re designed to keep the virus from taking hold. For that reason, they must be started as soon as possible after a bite. The first shot is given near the bite; over the next 28 days, you’ll get 5 or 6 more shots in the arm. That sounds much better than 12 or 24 or 36 shots in the belly, as playground lore would have it.

Cuts Should Be Washed with Hydrogen Peroxide

Fiction. Leave that brown bottle on the shelf and clean cuts and scrapes with running water instead, then apply an antibiotic ointment. Peroxide does kill bacteria that may have invaded a cut, but it also knocks off cells working hard to knit your skin back together. In one study, wounds treated with hydrogen peroxide healed more slowly than those treated with an antibiotic ointment or with an ointment that didn’t contain any germ-fighting ingredients.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest