Learn These First Aid Skills for Wild College Parties

Whether you’re a newbie about to attend their first student party, or an adult with friends who sometimes party too hard, it’s good to know what to do when things get out of hand. Here are some basic tips and skills that can help you help others:

It’s orientation week for freshmen at Lifehacker! This week, we’ll share how to break out of the summer fog and plunge into the autumn burst of activity, whether you’re heading to campus for the first time, getting your kids ready for school, or looking for ways to simply be more productive in school. So buckle up your Guardian Hunters with Velcro, apprentices. The class is now in session.

Plan ahead to get home and get help

This is the elementary safety of the party: know how you get home and who should be with you. Ideally, you go to the party with a friend and go home together. This will help you find your way home, but also two (or three, or four) of you can check each other and keep each other safe.

If you are in college, many schools have a phone number that you can call if you are stuck on or near campus, or take the “drunk bus” that can take you home. Find out your options ahead of time and make sure you have a safe way to get yourself and your possibly disabled friend back to their beds.

You also probably got some kind of safety brochure at school with emergency numbers, resources, and tips. Take a photo of this brochure and program the numbers into your phone so you have this information when you need it. Also take a picture of your health insurance card in case you end up in the hospital, and ask your friends to do the same.

Know the difference between a drunk “sleep well” and a drunk “call emergency”

It is not normal for someone to drink a lot and then pass out completely. This can happen quite often, especially early in the semester on college campuses, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth ignoring. If you don’t know if your friend is okay, call him. The campus may have an emergency or campus security number; otherwise, you know how to dial 911.

Get help if your friend:

  • They look like they’re sleeping, but you can’t wake them up
  • May choke on its own vomit
  • Breathes very slowly

If you ask for help, stay with them until help arrives and let the emergency staff know anything you know, such as how many drinks they drank. You usually won’t get in trouble, especially if your state or school has an amnesty policy for the Good Samaritans.

If your friend is waking up and breathing normally, just help him get home safely. If you are drunk too, find a sober person who can help. Place your friend in a recovery position on the floor or in bed, and have someone else stay with him.

Watch for injuries and know first aid

Even if someone only has small amounts of alcohol or drugs in their body, they can still put their life or health at risk for what they do while they have a disability. Do your best to keep drunk friends away from cars, water (alcohol is a huge risk factor for drowning ) and other dangerous situations.

And watch out for injuries. If someone is bleeding, has a bad bruise, or looks like they hit their head, they may be more injured than they appear. Again, if you’re not sure how badly someone is hurt, get help anyway.

If you can, take a first aid course. Some important life skills to know:

  • CPR when someone’s heart is not beating or breathing (you do CPR while someone calls 911 and continue until emergency responders arrive)
  • How to stop bleeding in an emergency – turnstiles are good again!
  • What to do if someone chokes (Heimlich works, but there is one more thing you should know)

Know How To Use Naloxone

Because opioid overdoses are more frequent than before, it is important to know that a person who faints may be an overdose and not just drunk. Once again, if you don’t know, call 911 anyway.

A person who has had an opioid overdose (be it heroin or leftover pain relievers) is completely unresponsive, breathes very slowly (less than 12 breaths per minute), and often has blue hands and lips. Narcan or generic naloxone is easy to use if you have it on hand.

If you think this is a situation you may encounter, it is a good idea to have naloxone handy or to find out if there is a kit nearby. Jillian Bower-Reese wrote in Slate that perhaps every student should go to school with naloxone and fentanyl test strips . It’s up to you to decide if you think you might need them, but either way it’s always good to know what to do in an emergency and be as prepared as possible.


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