The Canadian Red Cross and the Heart and Stroke Foundation announced new guidelines this week that will become a part of first aid and CPR courses across the country.

Some of the notable changes include how to disinfect a wound. It's now recommended to rinse a cut under clean running water for five minutes instead of using soap and water.

Another change relates to head injuries. When someone receives a blow to the head, they should immediately stop whatever activity they are doing and seek medical aid — even if they're not displaying symptoms.

Red Cross spokesperson Dan Bedell said the guidelines are updated every five years, and with good reason.

"Within first aid, there are always new technologies. There are always studies that are being done that may identify things that can be done better. And that's what all the major first aid providers across the country look to do — to always have the best possible training available," he said.

New guidelines

Here are some of the other changes:

  • Severe allergic reactions: New guidelines recommend a second dose of epinephrine from an auto-injector pen if there's no sign of improvement within five to 10 minutes of the first dose.
  • Adults with chest pain: Should chew (not swallow whole) one regular or two low-dose Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) tablets while waiting for emergency medical assistance — except for those with an allergy to ASA or who have bleeding disorders.
  • Neck injuries: Application of a cervical collar is no longer recommended "because the collars can cause complications and discomfort." It's now recommended to manually support a person's head to prevent movement until medical professionals arrive.

The changes, which were first introduced last October, were suggested after the following organizations reviewed first aid and CPR practices: Red Cross, Heart and Stroke, St. John Ambulance, Canadian Ski Patrol and the Lifesaving Society.