Life Saving Skills Everyone Should Know

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Nothing is scarier than being confronted with a situation where someone becomes seriously ill or is injured in your presence and you don’t know what to do. Knowing how to react and which steps to take becomes critical to the recovery of the person needing help. Below we list some of the actions you can take to assist whoever may be in need of your help.

How to determine if a person has lost consciousness

When someone is unconscious it may seem that they are suddenly unable to respond to stimuli and they will appear to be “asleep”.  A person may be unconscious for a few seconds (fainting) or for longer periods of time.

According to Health Safety Day in an article titled ’10 Life Saving Skills Everyone Should Know’ the following steps should be taken if you see an unconscious person:

  • “Check whether the person is breathing by gently tilting their head back. If the person is not breathing, tell a bystander to call an ambulance immediately (tell them the number to be on the safe side).
  • If the person is breathing, turn them on their side into the recovery position. Loosen any restrictive clothing or belts. If the person doesn’t regain consciousness within one minute, call an ambulance.
  • Continue to check whether the person is breathing while you wait for help to arrive.
  • If you notice the person stops breathing, or is making abnormal breathing sounds, turn the person on their back and start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until emergency personnel arrive.”


When someone’s heart stops it means that it is no longer pumping blood and oxygen to the major organs. CPR performs this function when you firmly compress the chest about two inches, at a rate of about 100 beats per minute. CPR needs to be administered right away as it increases a victim’s chance of survival. Remember that CPR can be performed on anyone who has collapsed, even when you are uncertain as to whether they’re under cardiac arrest or not.


The first step to take when someone is choking and cannot breathe is to deliver five blows to their back with the heel of your hand. This should be enough to dislodge the food or object that is stuck in the individuals airway. If it is not then you will have to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre to clear their airways. This is done by standing behind the victim, wrapping your arms around their torso and placing a fist between their ribcage and belly button. Take hold of your one hand with your other hand and quickly pull your fist towards you in a quick upward thrusting motion. Continue until the object is dislodged. The Heimlich manoeuvre is intended for use on adults and should not be used on infants and children. There is a different technique for infants and children.

Treating Wounds:

The most important thing to remember when treating serious wounds is to stop the bleeding. Make sure that you wash your hands and put on gloves before attempting to treat the wound. Make the person lie down and cover them with a blanket. Elevate the injured area and examine the wound, wrap the cut with a cloth or bandage and apply pressure for 20 minutes. Try and avoid releasing the pressure to check on the bleeding. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, apply pressure to the nearest artery. Main arteries are located just behind the knee, in the groin or the inner arm above the elbow and just below the underarm. To compress an artery press the area against the bone with one hand and continue to apply pressure to the wound with the other hand at the same time.

Know your emergency numbers:

Every second counts in an emergency and having all of South Africa’s emergency service numbers in one place means you are prepared for any event.


Dial 112 from your cell phone and you will be linked to your cell phone company’s emergency call centre – even if you are out of airtime or the phone is locked.

Using your landline or cell phone you can phone the following numbers for assistance during an emergency:

Nationwide flying squad – police patrol unit -10111

Nationwide ambulance – 10177

Nationwide fire Brigade – 10177

Integrated Emergency Response (iER): 0861 10 60 80

The above techniques are just some of the critical skills needed to save a life but it does not cover everything.


Life saving skills everyone should know,

All your emergency numbers,

Know the basic life saving skills,

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