How prepared are you in case of a medical emergency?

Olivia Seitz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

It's easy to think, "That will never happen to me," but thousands of people deal with medical emergencies each day. If you or someone you love is in danger, do you know what to do to help?

Which of the following is probably not a medical emergency?

Medical emergencies come in many forms - if a cut won't stop bleeding, if someone receives a blow to the head or if someone experiences sudden, unexpected abdominal pain, you're probably dealing with a medical emergency and should seek professional assistance.

Which of the following is a good place to check someone's pulse?

Two good places to check for a pulse are the side of the neck or on the wrist. You'll get a better result by using two fingers and pressing firmly where the pulse should be.

In which of the following situations should you call 911?

Calling an ambulance is a good idea if someone is severely injured, is suffering from an injury or illness that could soon become life threatening, if you can't get to the hospital independently, or if you need the skills and knowledge of a paramedic to treat the person. Sometimes, deciding if the situation warrants an ambulance can be difficult, but it's usually better to err on the side of caution and talk to a dispatcher.

Which of the following might signify a medical emergency?

All of these symptoms may be caused by serious illness or injury, so it's important to check for other symptoms and contact a medical professional. Even dehydration - which can cause dizziness and fainting - can be serious if not rectified.

Which of the following isn't usually life-threatening?

A broken arm usually isn't life threatening, but it needs medical attention quickly. Heart attacks, anaphylaxis and suicidal thoughts/feelings should all be treated immediately.

Which of the following isn't a medical emergency?

Sunburns aren't usually medical emergencies, although it's possible to become seriously injured from a really bad sunburn. If someone has been drowning, was in a car accident, or has been vomiting for a while, it's probably a medical emergency.

When is a fever an emergency?

It's important to have a thermometer on hand in case you or a relative starts running a temperature. Keeping an eye on the duration and severity of the fever is important. Also, watch for accompanying symptoms like vomiting, confusion, a stiff neck, etc.

At what point is choking dangerous?

As long as a person is able to cough and splutter, they're okay on their own. If they're unable to make noise and turn red in the face, it's time for the Heimlich maneuver.

What is something you should be able to tell a 911 dispatcher?

The most important thing you can tell a dispatcher is your location, so that help can be sent. They'll usually ask for your name and number. It's best to answer questions as asked instead of telling the whole story from start to finish.

If you or a member of your household is taking medication, what should you do?

It's good practice to keep an up-to-date list of all your prescriptions, along with the names and numbers of your doctors. Encourage members of your household to do likewise. In a medical emergency, this information can be life-saving.

Where should you keep emergency contact information?

It's important to keep critical contact information both in your phone and written down where friends and family can find it. If your phone breaks or runs out of battery during an emergency, you'll be glad you wrote down those numbers.

Which of these should you keep in your first aid kit?

Asprin, sterile gloves and instant cold presses are all handy when disaster strikes. In an emergency, you won't want to run around trying to remember where you stashed your supplies.

If your family is hit by the flu, what will help reduce its spread?

The flu can be deadly, especially to the elderly and the very young, so it's important to reduce its spread as much as possible. Taking care to clean up germs quickly and thoroughly will help protect family members (but doesn't guarantee they won't still catch it).

What should you do first if someone says they're experiencing chest pain?

Chest pain is no joke - while it could end up being nothing, it could just as easily be a heart attack. Emergency responders much prefer arriving to find everyone okay than coming when it's already too late.

If you think someone has a serious neck injury, what should you do?

Neck injuries are no joke: moving someone with a serious neck or back injury could cause substantial harm, or even death. Calling 911 and letting the paramedics sort things out is the recommended course of action.

If someone is having a seizure, when should you call 911?

Seizures are very serious. Just because someone's had a seizure before doesn't mean it can't be damaging or life-threatening. While length, secondary injury and foaming at the mouth are signs of a worse seizure, you don't need to wait for those things to happen before you call 911.

How do you know if a burn is severe?

First degree burns often cause redness of skin and can be soothed by soaking in cool water, taking over-the-counter pain medicine and using lotions like aloe vera (but no ice or butter). Worse burns will cause symptoms like blistering and swelling (second degree) or blackened/whitened skin (third degree). Numbness in the burned area is a bad sign.

If you have children at home, what might you do to prepare them for a medical emergency?

If children are ever home alone, or if the parent watching them is unconscious, it's important for them to know what to do. Explaining a plan of action in case of emergency will help them act quickly if the worst should occur.

Which of the following methods to stop bleeding should be used only as a last resort, while waiting for medical assistance?

Tourniquets have fallen out of favor with the medical community because they can result in loss of limb. It's better to use pressure, bandages and ice to stop bleeding. If these fail, the tourniquet should be used as a final life-saving measure until help arrives.

Which of the following is not a critical phone number to have handy?

It's recommended that you have at least the following numbers accessible: fire department, police department, ambulance, doctors' office numbers, poison control center, nearest neighbors, key relatives and important contacts at work. That way, the right people can be reached quickly in a pinch.

Which of the following does the CDC recommend including in an emergency kit?

If you need to get out the door and go in an emergency, having these supplies already gathered together will make things much easier. Alternatively, it's also useful to be able to tell a relative, "Everything you need to bring to us is in this bag in this place."

Which of the following is information you should have available in a medical emergency?

Poisoning deaths have been significantly reduced by the use of poison control centers. If you or someone in your household ingests a toxic substance, you can call that number and get fast, free help about how to proceed.

What could make a nosebleed dangerous?

High blood pressure plus a nosebleed can actually be a deadly situation - the high blood pressure makes the nosebleed worse, and the person can lose more blood than you'd expect. If the bleeding doesn't slow or stop soon, it's important to seek medical attention.

The recovery position includes placing an unconscious person how?

People are less likely to choke if positioned on their side with their knees bent forward, the supporting arm under the head, and the other arm bent in front. It's only recommended for people without other serious injuries, however. For example, someone who passed out from alcohol consumption could benefit from the recovery position, but someone with a suspected spinal injury should never be moved.

What should you do if you or someone you know has a tooth knocked out?

Teeth won't survive outside the mouth for long if they dry out, so it's important to keep them clean and moist. If the tooth can't be held in the person's mouth, it can be temporarily preserved in milk. You'll only have a couple hours - at most - to save the tooth.

Which of the following is not essential for a first aid kit?

While it's nice to have a few tissues around when you need to sneeze, there are more important items to include, like emergency doses of your medicine, bandages for wounds and an unexpired tube of antibiotic ointment.

What's the best position to be in if you suddenly feel dizzy, lightheaded or faint?

If you or someone you know is dizzy or lightheaded, look for a safe place to lie down. If that's not possible, look for a place to sit. Fainting from standing could cause secondary injuries from the fall, but lying down will help prevent injuries and keep blood moving to the brain.

If someone is having a seizure and you've called 911, what should you do in the meantime?

Never put anything in the mouth of someone who is having a seizure. It's recommended that you clear a space for them, get something soft under their head if you can do so safely, steer clear of them to avoid getting injured yourself, and keep an eye on the clock so you can tell the medics how long the seizure lasts.

Should you administer CPR to an unconscious person, even if you haven't been trained?

CPR is an important life-saving technique that helps someone who isn't breathing get the oxygen their body needs to survive. Studies show that the chest compression part is most important - try compressing to a song in your head at 100 to 120 beats per minute. Meanwhile, you or someone nearby should call 911 for further instructions.

When is it appropriate to use antiseptic on a wound?

For surface scratches and the like, it's good practice to clean the wound with antiseptic and then bandage it. If it's a deeper wound, move straight for the bandages until you can be seen by a medical professional.

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