First Aid Techniques
At the Emergency Scene
Action in An Emergency
Assessing a Casualty
Maintaining Airway,
Breathing, and Circulation
What to do When Somebody has Collapsed
The recovery Position for
The recovery Position for
Children and Babies
Rescue Breathing for Adults
Rescue Breathing for
Children and Babies
CPR for Adults
CPR for Children and Babies
Choking in Adults
Choking in Children
Choking in Babies
Everyday First Aid
Minor Wounds
Infected Wounds
Dealing with Splinters and
Fish Hooks
Foreign Bodies
Animal Bites
Insect Bites and Stings
More on Bites and Stings
Earaches, Toothache, and
Sore Throat
Abdominal Pain
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Hysteria, Hiccups, and Panic
Equipment, Medicines, and Complementary Medicine
Using Dressings and Cold
First Aid Kit for the Home
First Aid Kit for the Car
Wilderness First Aid Kit
Observation Chart/Victim
Storing and Using Medication
Commonly Prescribed
What They Do and Side
Drug Interactions
The Complementary
Medicine Chest
Using Dressings and Cold Compresses

A dressing is a piece of material that covers a wound to protect it from infection or to staunch bleeding. Cold compresses are used to reduce swelling ad relieve pain. They are particularly useful for sprains and strains.


There are three main types of cold compress:

  • Ice pack
  • Cold pad
  • Chemical pack

Applying an ice pack

Do not apply ice directly to the skin.

  1. Wrap a bag of crushed ice in a clean piece of material such as a triangular bandage or tea towel.

  2. Apply to the injured part for up to 20 minutes, securing in place as necessary.

  3. Replace the ice as needed. Items from the freezer, such as frozen peas, make a good alternative to crushed ice.

Applying a cold pad

1. Soak a pad such as a washcloth or folded triangular bandage in cold water. Wring it out so that it does not drip.

2. Apply to the injured area for up to 20 minutes, securing as necessary.

3. Wet the pad as needed to keep it cool.

4. If the wound is bleeding, tie the bandage firmly direct over the site of the injury to ensure maximum pressure.

5. Check the circulation below the site of the bandaging.

Using a chemical packs

Cool packs are available from most pharmacies or sports shops. They contain chemicals which when mixed together by tapping or twisting the surrounding plastic bag, become cold. The pad can then be used in the same way as an ice pack.

  1. Follow the instructions on the pack.

  2. If the pack is damaged, do not use it because the chemicals may leak onto the skin. Chemical packs are ideal for situations in which you may be some distance from water or ice.


  1. Remove the wrapping, taking care not to touch the dressing gently over the wound.

  2. Wind the bandage around the dressing, covering the entire pad.

  3. Secure the bandage in place with tape, a bow, or square knot.


  • The dressing should be larger than the area that is being treated.
  • Place non-adhesive dressings shiny side down.
  • If blood comes through the dressing, do not remove it. Place another dressing on top of it.
  • For larger wounds or large burns, use additional layers of padding on top of the dressing.
  • Check that the seal on a prepacked dressing is not broken; a broken seal means that the dressing is no longer sterile.

To reduce the risk of infection

  • Wash your hands and wear gloves if possible.
  • Open the dressing as close to the wound as possible.
  • Do not touch the wound or the dressing.


If you do not have a prepacked dressing available, use a piece of clean, non-fluffy material such as clean handkerchief, a freshly washed pillow case for burns covering a large surface area, or a clean plastic sandwich bag or piece of plastic wrap for smaller burns.


There are various prepacked varieties of dressing available:


These usually have one shiny side made of a material that minimizes the risk of the dressing sticking to the wound. Generally more expensive than ordinary dressings, they are good for burns and scrapes.


These may be backed by a layer of cotton padding. Gauze pads come in various sizes. The larger ones are particularly useful for managing wounds that are bleeding profusely.

Adhesive bandages
These are available in a variety of sizes and are used for smaller cuts. There are specially shaped bandages for a range ok skin tones. To ensure maximum cleanliness, use individually wrapped bandages rather than cutting one from a long roll.


Dressings can be held in place:

  • With a bandage—either one attached to the dressing or a separate one. Triangular, tubular, and Ace bandages can all be used to hold dressings in place.

  • With tape—take care not to stick tape to the wound. Do not tape all the way around the limb because this may damage circulation.

  • By the injured person—injuries to the face, for example, are particularly hard to bandage and the dressing may be better held in place by hand.
If using tape (or an adhesive bandage) ask the injured person if he or she is aware of any allergy to latex. If there is a history of allergy, use an alternative method of securing the dressing.
Using Dressings and Cold Compresses

First Aid Procedures
Breathing Difficulties
Anaphylactic Shock
Heart Problems
Treatment of External Bleeding
Bleeding from the Head or
Treating Chest or Abdominal
Crush Injuries, Impalement,
and Amputation
Internal Bleeding
Eye Wounds and Embedded
Bleeding from Special Sites
Controlling Bleeding from the Mouth and Nose
Fractures, Discolorations, and
Soft Tissue Injuries
How to Treat Fractures
Fractures of the Skull, Face,
and Jaw
Fractures of the Upper Body
Fractures of the Arm and Hand
Fractures of the Ribcage
Recognizing Back and Spinal
If you have to move the Victim
Unconscious Victim
Injuries to the Lower Body
Injuries to the Lower Leg
Sprains and Strains
Burns and Scalds
Treating Other Types of Burn
Chemical Burns and Eye Burns
Extreme Cold
Extreme Heat
Poisoning from Household
Poisoning from Industrial
Drug Poisoning
Alcohol Poisoning
Food Poisoning
Emergency Childbirth
Wilderness First Aid
What to Do if You are a Long Way from Help
Wilderness First Aid
Avalanche and Snow Survival Techniques
Cold Water Survival
Stretcher Improvising
Loading and Carrying a
One-and-Two-Person Carries
Helicopter Rescue