85 Useful Tips Which Could Help to Save a Life


As children we're all taught not to run with scissors and look both ways before crossing the road. Like these examples, most of what we learn about safety and accident prevention seems like common sense.

Since becoming a parent, learning about accident prevention and teaching my children to stay safe has become even more important. There is no single resource covering every aspect of safety we may encounter, and a great many tips which we may not immediately consider.

In this post I've collected 85 useful tips which may not immediately spring to mind in a situation which demands them. I hope you will find this resource useful, and perhaps learn something new which could one day help save a life.


Be prepared for emergency situations

1. Take a course in first aid, particularly if you have children, to learn how to deal with a medical emergency until help arrives. In the UK, St. John's Ambulance offers reasonably priced courses for essential and basic first aid for all ages (including sections for providing first aid to children).

2. Learn to use 112 for emergency services. In all EU countries and many other countries worldwide, 112 is recognised as an emergency call number. You can preregister your mobile phone to send text messages in case of emergency by texting register to 112.

Here's a short video about using 112:


3. In almost al cases, you should always call emergency services before administering first aid. You can always put on the speaker phone or shout your location as you administer CPR. If you're in any doubt about what to do, the emergency operator will be able to instruct you.

4. Children are often much calmer than adults in emergency situations. Give a child the phone if you are panicked!

5. Yell "Fire" if you need help from a bystander. People are far more likely to assist than if they hear "help".

6. Address people personally if there are people nearby but no-one offers assistance. For example: "Hey you in the red coat! Could you call an ambulance please?" Bystanders are far more likely to offer help (while others follow their lead) if singled out and personally requested.

7. If someone is choking, do whatever is required to get rid of the obstruction, even if that means being rough with a baby or child. Wounds can heal, but lack of oxygen will kill!

8. Breath before blood, blood before bones is a mantra to remember when dealing with a medical emergency. It is far more important to check and attend to breathing than blood loss. Then check and attend to blood loss before examining for breakages.

9. Learn the CAB of resuscitation: Compression, Airway and Breathing. This is a mnemonic (memory aid) for the initial management of a person who has collapsed
  • C = Compressions: push hard and fast on the centre of the unconscious person's chest
  • A = Airway: Tilt the victim's head back and lift the chin to clear the airway
  • B = Breathing: check that the patient is breathing; if not, commence expired air respiration

10. Hands-only CPR can save lives! Chest compressions to the beat of the Bee-Gee's Staying Alive until medical help arrives keeps oxygen circulating around the body:


11. If you encounter an injured person, approach them head on so they're not startled and don't have to turn their head to face you. This reduces the risk of paralysis or worse, from any possible spinal or neck injuries.

12. If the airbags have gone off in a car accident, tilt the person's head upwards to prevent their airway being restricted. Never move a head from side to side, just tilt it up gently.

13. Know the signs and symptoms of meningitis. A child suffering from meningitis can deteriorate rapidly; by spotting the signs quickly you can save a life! The Meningitis Trust offers a free app for Android and iPhone users to help you notice symptoms and seek help.

14. If someone has food lodged but is coughing/breathing/able to talk, don't slap them on the back as you may dislodge it and cause a total obstruction. Encourage them to cough and try to clear it themselves.

15. Learn to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack in yourself and others:



16. If someone appears to be having a heart attack but is conscious, keep them sat up against a wall or similar, and give them half of one aspirin if you can as soon as possible.

17. The FAST test is a pnemonic to help spot the signs of a stroke:
  • FACIAL weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  • ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms?
  • SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
  • TIME to call 999.
If a person fails any one of these tests, get help from the emergency services immediately. A speedy response can help reduce the damage to a person’s brain and improve their chances of a full recovery. A delay in getting help can result in death or long-term disabilities.

18. If someone seems drunk in the middle of the dayit could be the onset of a diabetic coma. Sit them down and call an ambulance immediately. If their breath smells of alcohol, this could be indicative of diabetic ketoacidosis, it's better to be safe than sorry!

19. Drowning doesn't look like drowning! If someone is droning they will not be able to thrash around and yell for help as they gasp for breaths while rapidly losing energy. Parents take note: children playing in water are generally noisy. If they are quiet, find out why immediately!



20. If you are alone and need help but are unable to speak, call emergency services from a landline if possible so that your call can be easily traced. If you can only access a mobile phone, call 112 as dialling this number enables you to be traced more quickly than calling 999 (or 911 for those in the US).

21. If you have a cut, bite or eczema which is sprouting red lines, mark the end of the line with a felt-tip pen and note the time, and get yourself to A&E immediately! This is a sign of lymphangitis, which can lead to septicaemia (which can be fatal if not promptly treated).

22. Burns and scalds should be immediately immersed in cold water or held under a cold running tap for a good few minutes (ideally five, or ten for more severe injuries). This minimises the effect of the burn and could save from severe scarring. 

Safety in the home

23. Take your mobile phone to bed with you, or have a landline which does not require mains power in the bedroom to make emergency calls even if the power is cut.

24. Check smoke alarms weekly and change batteries twice a year (it's easier to remember to change batteries if you do so when adjusting clocks for daylight savings time). 

25. Carbon monoxide kills. Get your boiler serviced, get a monitor and don't ever bring a used disposable barbecue back into the house. Carbon monoxide poisoning is dubbed "the silent killer" and symptoms can often be mistaken for milder illnesses. Don't take any chances!

If you're only using one carbon monoxide detector, this should be placed near the sleeping area where it can wake you if you're asleep. Other areas to consider are the kitchen and any rooms which include a solid fuel fired or gas appliance (a gas fire or boiler for example). 

26. Things that are plugged in can and do catch fire due to bad wiring, even if the plug is switched off at the mains! If its not in use, unplug it. There is no way to detect bad wiring simply by looking at a plug socket.

27. Never leave a tumble dryer, washing machine or dishwasher on while you are out or asleep in case they overheat and cause a fire. The lint which collects in tumble dryers in particular can cause fire: be sure to clean filters after every use and wash weekly in soapy water.

28. Make an escape plan for every room in your house, so that if a fire does happen you don't have to think about it, you and your family can simply escape to safety. Plan your escape routes with alternatives should an exit be blocked.

29. Ensure young children know what to do if they hear the smoke alarm. Ideally you should teach them to close their bedroom door and put something against the gap at the bottom, open a window and lay on the floor until Mum/Dad or a fireman come to get them. This places them in the safest place possible until help arrives.

30. Make sure everyone in the home knows where the keys are at night to ensure they can be easily accessed in case of emergency.

31. If it is possible, close room doors at night to minimise the spread of smoke in case of a fire.

32. In the unlucky event you do experience a house fire, throw down pillows and duvets before making your escape through a window. It takes only seconds and can minimize injuries dramatically.

For infants and children

33. Remember the mnemonic cold babies cry, hot babies die. A baby who is too warm will rarely cry, but infants can die from overheating.

34. To help avoid SIDS, babies under six months old should sleep in the same room as a parent or carer for all their sleeps, not just the night-time ones. They are as much at risk during daytime naps as when sleeping in the bedroom at night.

35. Do not kiss a young baby if you suffer from coldsores. The virus can be transmitted even if you're not experiencing the symptoms. Mothers who have experienced coldsores prior to baby being born pass on their immunity, but an infant without this immunity can become seriously ill or even die.

36. If your baby stops breathing, blow in their face or nudge them. Sleep apnoea is very common in babies up to about 6 months - they seem to 'forget' to breathe, for a few seconds. If this does not work, call emergency services immediately. 

37. Babies and small children in 5 point harnesses car seat shouldn't wear a big padded winter coat. In the case of a crash, the padding compresses, however tight you think you have the straps, and the harness becomes essentially useless.

38. Furniture items which can topple - bookcases, dressers, drawers, wardrobes and the like - need to be firmly fixed to a wall so they won't fall on a child that pulls or tries to climb them. The same applies to television sets which should be firmly fixed to a wall or TV stand.

39. Deflated balloons are a choking risk for young children who lack the lung power to blow it up successfully and could suck it back into their throat.

40. Always cover a rotary dryer when not in use. The loops of washing line hang down low enough for children to easy become entangled which can lead to choking or worse.

41. Trampolines are a terrible safety hazard! I personally will not allow my children to have one in the garden due to the sheer number of serious accidents they have caused. But if you do insist on using one, be sure to supervise constantly and above all make sure only one child uses the trampoline at a time. Please take a look at the advice from RoSPA regarding safe use of trampolines.

42. Always cut blind cords or safely fix them to the wall to ensure young children don't become tangled and choke.

43. Cut grapes and cherry tomatoes in half before giving to a young child. While excellent as healthy snacks, these are just the right size and shape to get lodged in an infant's throat.

44. At the beach, or near any water, don't let small children play on inflatables unless you (or another responsible adult) have a firm grip on it. Rubber dinghies can float out into deep waters very quickly!

45. Never let small children stand in the main section of a shopping trolley, no matter how tempting it is! Trollies are not designed to be used in this way, and many accidents have occurred in supermarkets due to children falling out or being bashed against the sides.

46. If you lose sight of your child in a public place, immediately begin shouting out a description such as "Lost little boy, five years old, wearing a blue coat with blonde hair and blue eyes". People will immediately begin looking around to help you find them much faster than by wasting time looking for a security guard.

47. Write your mobile phone number in washable felt tip on your children's arms whenever visiting a busy public place (such as a theme park, outdoor market or festival) which will help you be reunited much more quickly.

48. Teach your children to shout "This isn't my Daddy/Mummy" if they are ever taken (whilst kicking, screaming and trying to escape of course!). In cases where a child shouts for help, bystanders will likely assume they are being disciplined by parents and will not offer assistance.

49. Know the glow! A white glow reflected by a camera flash in a child's eye could be a sign of Coat's Disease or Retinoblastoma: two serious eye diseases which can lead to blindness. Find our more at KnowTheGlow.org or watch the video below:


50. Use your infant's car seat when flying to ensure they remained restrained and safe. Unfortunately it may cost more to purchase an additional seat for your child when compared to the free flights often provided for "lap children" (infants under two years of age who sit on their parent's lap), but it offers reassurance of your child's increased safety. Check out this article to read a hostess' opinions on the subject.

Tips for travelling

51. Always read the safety instructions and make note of exits when on public transport, planes, trains and boats. In the event of an emergency, you do not want to waste precious minutes wondering what to do and which way to go!

52. When staying in a hotel, check the fire exits and routes on the back of your room door and walk them to be sure there are no obstructions and that you know your way out in a hurry.

53. Try to get a hotel room on one of the lower floors. The ladders of a regular fire engine don't extend higher than the third floor of a building, so in case of a fire you may have to wait longer for assistance.

54. When flying, count the number of seats between you and the nearest exit so you can easily find your way in the dark.

55. If you're required to adopt the brace position, put the hand you don't use for writing on top of the other. During turbulence, luggage can fall out of overhead compartments and hurt your hand. Ensuring your writing hand is injury-free can increase your chances of getting off promptly and safely.

56. When driving an unfamiliar car, find out where the hazard lights are in case you need to use them in an emergency.

57. Don't slam the brakes on if your car begins to skid on ice. Don't make any sudden movements. Just take your foot off the accelerator and gently steer into the skid. You may need to remind yourself of this consciously if you don't often drive in icy conditions.

58. If your car overheats, pull over and wait for it to cool down before lifting the bonnet. You can easily scald yourself if trying to put more water into the radiator, and if there is hot seam it could hit you right in the face. It's better to wait rather than take a chance.

59. Don't leave anything loose in the car. In the event of a crash, the impact will send everything flying which is not held down. Anything which can roll about in the rear of a car can become lodged under the pedals if you have to brake sharply, leaving you unable to control your car.

60. If your foot brake fails, use your handbrake. 

61. If neither set of brakes work, gear down as fast as you can. This may well damage the gearbox, but in first gear you will struggle to drive at more than 10mph and can enable you to bring th car to a stop.

62. Never drive somewhere without your mobile phone and some cash.

63. PING! stands for - Park In Gear! A handbrake is not enough, sometimes they fail and this can have tragic consequences.

64. If you're in a vehicle which is stuck in rapidly rising water (such as a flood situation), open your windows immediately to ensure you will have a means of getting out.

65. If lost in a wilderness (in snow, desert, on the moors) and have a vehicle, stay with it! It is much easier to spot a vehicle than a single person, which will increase the chances of help finding you quickly.

Personal Safety

66. Have a "check-in buddy" when travelling alone. A text or quick call to your buddy will let them know you've arrived safely, or get help on your behalf if they're unable to contact you after an allotted time.

67. Consider installing a personal safety app on your smartphone, such as those presented in this post.

68. If you think you're being followed, turn around and look them in the face. Most would-be attackers are deterred if they think a potential victim could recognise them.

69. In a mugging situation, throw your bag as far away from you as possible and run in the opposite direction. Most likely their attention will be focused on your possessions enabling you to make a quick escape without injury. Never forget that you are worth more than anything you carry; it's better to lose your favourite handbag and all its contents than to risk losing your life!

70. If you ever get stuck in a headlock, don't pull away! Instead turn your head into your attacker's chest which will allow you to wriggle free.

71. Don't forget to SING if attacked from behind! In the 2000 film Miss Congeniality, we learn that SING stands for: Solar Plexus, Instep, Nose and Groin, the four vulnerable places to strike an attacker who comes at you from your rear.


72. If you are attacked try to scream and fight like you've never fought before. Many women believe that they should do what is asked and then the attacker will leave once they've done. However, most attackers believe that women won't fight back and are deterred by those who do (particularly in cases of potential rape).

73. If anyone points a gun at you and they don't have hold of you RUN! It is far more difficult to hit a moving target than a stationary one.

74. Shout "I don't know this man!" if you are attacked in a public place. Bystanders often ignore situations they perceive as a "domestic", and are more likely to come running if they know you're being attacked by a stranger.

75. Trapped in the boot of a car? Kick out a rear light with your foot and wave a hand through the gap to attract attention. Banging or screaming is not so likely to be heard above the noise of traffic, and kicking out the light is not so likely to attract the driver's attention.

General safety tips

76. If you need to get into fast flowing water to pull a person/animal out - first run ahead on the bank to get downstream of them, otherwise it's likely you won't manage to catch up to them in time.

77. Never jump into water to save a dog - especially in rough seas. Most dogs get themselves out of trouble and survive. Very many of their humans drown.

78. Always wear high-visibility clothing when participating in an off-road activity. In the event of a fall or other incident, your rescuers will be able to find you more easily.

79. Never use a disposable barbecue indoors or close to the opening of a tent, and leave it outside even after it has gone out to prevent potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.

80. If you are out at sea and you get in a rip current, don't swim into it. Swim along the shore until you are out of it.

81. When someone is drunk, put them in the recovery position so they don't choke on their vomit. Teach your teenage children this so they can help their friends should such a situation arise:


82. If someone is not at work, find out why. Don't assume it's been done by someone else.

83. Pets paying attention to a particular part of your body may sense something that you do not. Get it checked out, even if you're convinced there's nothing wrong - it's better to be safe than sorry!

84. Program an emergency contact into your mobile phone. The ICE (In Case of Emergency) prefix is widely recognised, or you could use "Daughter Sally" or "Uncle Gordon" instead.

85. Always follow your instincts! If you have a gut feeling that a situation or person is dangerous, you're probably right. The same applies when seeking advice from a doctor - if you're not happy with a diagnosis, seek a second (third, or even a fourth) opinion until you feel comfortable with the outcome.

What tips would you add to this list?

This is by no means an exhaustive list - I'm sure many of you reading this will have tips you would like to add too!

Please feel free to join the conversation by making your own suggestions or leaving your comments about this post by using the form below.

Image credit: Torbakhopper, via Flickr