In an emergency, how do I determine if the scene is safe?

 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine

Your first step in a medical emergency must be to look around and ask yourself "Is the scene safe for me?" before attempting a rescue. Too often well-intentioned rescuers become victims themselves when they risk their safety to help others. Don't think that rushing in will make you a hero. If the area is unsafe, go for help or put on the personal protective equipment (PPE) that will permit you to assist safely.

Use all your senses, look, listen, smell to decide if it is safe. If anything registers to your mind a possible danger be it a cloud of smoke, smell of chemicals or odors-you will use your common sense and do not becoming another victim! Help by calling the proper professionals. If you are in a workplace and have proper personal protective gear use them. If you are unsure if the scene is safe error on the side if caution-there are other ways to help in an emergency.

Continue Learning about First Aid For Medical Emergencies & Conditions

Avoid Unnecessary Trips to the Emergency Department
Avoid Unnecessary Trips to the Emergency Department
In the movie Pay It Forward, the storyline is all about doing good deeds for strangers who, in turn, pass on a good deed to someone they don’t know. O...
Read More
What should I do if someone is impaled?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
If you or someone is impaled on an object, do not remove the object. Learn the emergency steps t...
More Answers
How can I tell if an adult or a child is conscious at an emergency scene?
American Red CrossAmerican Red Cross
The adult or child may be able to speak to you. He or she may be moaning, crying, making some ot...
More Answers
How to Use an AED
How to Use an AED

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.