Welcome to the October Edition of First in First Aid!

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Canada's Leading Authority in First Aid Training Since 1883




In this issue of First In First Aid you will learn about…..

International Day of Disaster Reduction – Friday October 13th: SEE BELOW

Fire Prevention Week: SEE BELOW

World Spine Day – Wednesday October 16th: SEE BELOW

Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month: SEE BELOW

Tricks and Treats for Halloween Safety: SEE BELOW

The time has finally come - another long weekend is just around the corner! Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and we cannot wait to indulge in an extra day of rest. It’s a time to meet up with friends and family, enjoy a hearty meal around the dinner table, and have lively conversation. Most importantly, the purpose of Thanksgiving is to be grateful for all we have, from basic living necessities to luxuries that we are lucky enough to indulge in. We encourage you and your families to count your blessings this October. After all, we should all be grateful that we have a roof over our heads and food on the table.

It’s good to be thankful for our blessings, but we can also use our actions to show our gratitude. Are you grateful for the food on the table? Be more careful of not overfilling your plate to avoid wasting it. Do you appreciate your friends and family? Take a second to spend time with them - they will appreciate the warm gesture. The more we show that we are grateful for all that life has to offer us, the happier we will be.

This Thanksgiving, St. John Ambulance wants you to appreciate the greatest gift we all take for granted - life itself! By learning basic first aid and safety techniques, we can all protect ourselves and our loved ones when we need it most. That’s why this edition of First in First Aid is packed with all the advice you need to stay safe this autumn!

October Intro


Did you know? Your chances of surviving a cardiac arrest can increase by up to 75% with the prompt use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). If you have been considering investing in an AED, there is no better time to do it than now. We’re offering 50% off alarmed AED cabinets with the purchase of a Philips Onsite AED. Don’t wait to take advantage of this offer – it is only available while quantities last! Please call your local St. John Ambulance branch for more information.
Philips OnSite Cabinet Promotion


We are lucky to live in a world where technology can help us predict emergencies. Weather networks tell us when thunderstorms and heatwaves are approaching. Smoke detectors sound when they sense fire in our homes. Some new cars even have indicators to alert us if there is a vehicle in our blind spot. So how come we still fall victim to natural disasters, house fires, car accidents, and more? The reason is simple – if we fail to react or are unprepared when an emergency arises, the consequences may be dire. This International Day of Disaster Reduction, we encourage you to prepare your family for any crisis that may come your way.

Pack Your Bags: Emergency Preparedness

When an emergency strikes, time is of the essence. You should have all the resources you need to survive comfortably close at hand, so you do not need to waste time scavenging for them during a crisis. Packing them all into an emergency kit and storing it in a place you can easily access it is ideal. You may even choose to have multiple kits – one at home, one in the car, and one at work to stay protected wherever you are.

There are a few basic necessities that every household’s emergency kit should have. These essentials are the most commonly-used supplies.

Basic living necessities are a must:

  • Food: Pack enough non-perishable food items into your kit to last each family member for three days. Popular food options include granola bars, dried fruit, and beef jerky. If you choose to pack canned goods, make sure they have easy-to-open lids, or pack a can opener in your kit too.
  • Water: Similarly, add enough water to last each family member for three days. For the average adult, a 125 mL bottle a day suffices.

Supplies that do not require electricity are useful in the case of a power outage:

  • Flashlight: During power outages, a flashlight will help you navigate your home or office. If it requires batteries, store an extra set of them in your emergency kit. Consider buying a crank flashlight that requires no batteries.
  • Lighter: If you need to start a fire for warmth, a lighter can help you start it.
  • Battery-operated radio: If your power goes out, a radio may be your only source of information. Keep a spare pack of batteries handy too!
  • Cash: During a power outage, cash may be your only mode of payment.

If your home is compromised in the case of a tornado or hurricane, these supplies will help you wait out the storm:

  • N95 Particulate Masks: These disposable masks help keep fine debris out from your lungs. They are particularly useful in hurricanes and tornadoes, where your home may suffer damage.
  • Poncho or cover-up: If you need to go outside in suboptimal weather conditions, some form of body covering may help. It can also double as a blanket if you need warmth or need to treat someone for shock.
  • Whistle: If you get trapped in your home, blowing a whistle can help emergency services find you.

First aid supplies help address minor injuries. Alternatively, you could purchase a First Aid Kit from St. John Ambulance to stay prepared:

  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen can treat headaches.
  • Adhesive bandages: If you suffer a minor cut or abrasion during a crisis, you will be able to protect it from infection and speed healing with a small bandage.
  • Antibacterial cream: A small tube will provide relief for burns and scratches that could otherwise become infected.

Other handy tools include the following:

  • Pocketknife: A pocketknife can be useful for many reasons during an emergency.
  • Phone charger: You can use your phone to help send messages to loved ones or call emergency services, but only if it is charged!
  • Copies of contact information and ID: Laminate copies of this essential information, and store it in your kit so that you may easily access it without searching for your wallet or a phone book.

For added peace of mind, throw all your emergency supplies into a backpack for easy carrying should you need to evacuate. You can buy specialized kits for different locations and activities from our website.

Alert Ready – Canada’s Emergency Alert System

Alert Ready is a nationwide emergency alert system designed to inform Canadians about emergency concerns in their areas. You may remember having a test alert sent to your phone, television or radio a few months ago. It is an innovative way to save lives in the face of danger, but it is only effective if you learn about it first! Read on to learn more about Alert Ready, and how it impacts you.

Alert Ready App
What kinds of alerts are broadcast via Alert Ready?

Alert Ready is used to inform Canadians about:

  • Fire-related emergencies: Both structural and outdoor fires fall into this category if they put a significant number of lives in danger.
  • Natural disasters: Tornadoes, flash floods, earthquakes and hurricanes are all cause for an alert.
  • Biohazards: If radiation or hazardous chemicals pose an extreme risk to civilians, an alert will be issued.
  • Explosives: The threat of an explosion – intentional or otherwise – putting many lives in danger is cause for an alert.
  • Environmental emergencies: If air quality is extremely low or if there is a high risk of falling objects – manmade or otherwise – an alert may be issued.
  • Civil disturbances: If a dangerous animal is on the loose, a child goes missing, or emergency response systems are down, an alert will be issued.
  • System tests: Test messages may be sent to your device to ensure that the Alert Ready system is up and running. You can learn about the test schedule in your area through the Alert Ready website.

Who issues Alert Ready messages?

Authorized government agencies determine whether the danger is great enough for a situation to be deemed a province-wide or nationwide emergency.

How can I receive Alert Ready messages?

The broadcasting industry has cooperated with the government to allow Alert Ready messages to be aired on television and radio. The alerts scroll across the screen and are read aloud, preceded by a distinct emergency tone. Wireless providers have also collaborated with the government to allow text messages to be sent to mobile devices across Canada, provided that they are connected to an LTE network. These messages are not the same as text messages – you will not be billed for receiving them. The only difference with these alerts it that the message may not be read aloud. If you are visually impaired, you may contact your service provider to learn more about whether your phone can read emergency messages aloud to you.

What should I do if I receive an emergency alert, and it is not a test?

First, heed the alert. Drop whatever you are doing to focus on the message, and remain calm. Panicking will not help in an emergency situation where time is of the essence. If you are driving, pull over when it is safe to do so and read your message. Then, read the emergency alert in full. Alerting authorities will include relevant information for the public in the message, so you should know exactly how to respond.

You can find out more about the Alert Ready system through their
website. We encourage you to learn about Canada’s emergency alert system so that you are well prepared to respond when a crisis strikes.


Summer is over, and soon we will be spending a lot more time indoors. What better time is there to make our living spaces a little more comfortable? After all, a cozy home is a welcoming one! Perhaps you will turn up the thermostat a little as temperatures drop throughout the month. You may even light some candles to lend a warm glow to your humble abode.

However you choose to embrace autumn, remember to exercise fire safety. Seventy-three percent of fire-related deaths in Canada are a result of residential fires, many of which stem from faulty heating systems, unattended candles, and more. In the United States, the threat is just as real. That is why both nations observe Fire Prevention Month during October, as a means to educate the public about the importance of fire safety. St. John Ambulance is participating by sharing fire prevention tips with Canadians all month. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for more information!

Plan Your Escape: Make an Emergency Route!

The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” The campaign educates citizens about simple ways that they can prevent and protect against household fires. In particular, it draws attention to the importance of creating an escape route for your home. You may assume that this is only necessary for large structures, like condominiums and public buildings, but that is not the case! Every home should have an emergency escape route to protect against fast-spreading residential fires.

Creating an emergency escape plan for your home is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with St. John Ambulance!

  1. Determine escape routes from every room in your home. A floor plan of your house or apartment may be useful in this step. First, write out a list of every room in your home. For each one, identify and describe at least two safe exit routes. If the escape route requires other tools, like rope or a ladder, include them in your description. You may also want to keep these supplies close to the room of interest so you may reach them easily in the case of a fire. Remember never to go back into a burning building once you have escaped
  2. Decide upon meeting places. You should determine four meeting places for your family. List them on your emergency escape plan.
    1. Within your home. This place will not be used in the case of a fire, but instead if there is a threat of a natural disaster, like a tornado or hurricane.
    2. Outside of your home. Use this meeting place if you must evacuate your home, like in the case of a house fire.
    3. Somewhere in your neighbourhood. Meet at this place if a fire engulfs multiple houses on your street, and is spreading fast.
    4. Out-of-town. This is a last resort, used if you need to evacuate your neighbourhood

Note that if you live with pets or disabled individuals, you should designate a family member to help them escape in the case of a fire.

  1. List emergency contacts. Fire stations, local police stations, hospitals and next-of-kin are all useful in the case of an emergency, but only if you can contact them! Keep their contact information with your emergency escape plan.

Retain all the above information on paper, and laminate it to protect it from wear and tear. Discuss it with your family so that everyone is on the same page. Want to learn more about emergency escape plans? Visit our website for more information.

Fire Safety at Home

Fire hazards could be lurking around every corner in your home. Extinguish them before they are a cause for concern with these safety tips!

How to Respond to a Household Fire

If a fire breaks out in your home and it is too large to extinguish safely, your primary goal should be to escape. As you exit the building, follow these guidelines:

  • Call 9-1-1. The sooner you call emergency services, the faster they will be able to reach your home.
  • Do not search for your personal belongings. Unless they are easily portable and within arms reach, do not take anything with you. It could slow you down and will decrease your chances of surviving.
  • If the fire is contained within a room, close the door on it before escaping. This will stop the flames from spreading as quickly. Of course, only do this if you are certain that no one else is in the room.
  • Do not run into rooms blindly. If you open a door and there is a fire raging behind it, the flames will seek more oxygen and rush towards you. If you must open a door to exit your home, touch the door handle first to gauge heat. If it is warm, proceed with caution.
  • Crawl instead of walking where smoke is thick. Smoke inhalation is dangerous, but you can avoid it by staying low to the ground.
  • If you catch on fire, stop, drop and roll. Rolling on the ground can smother the flames. Make sure the area around you is clear of flames before doing so.


Back pain can be crippling. When it is chronic, even the smallest tasks may feel like a struggle. An estimated one billion people around the world suffer from back pain, many sustained and impacted by repeated stress and bad posture. In Canada, back injuries are a leading cause of missed work – chronic back pain is debilitating. The World Federation of Chiropractors recognizes that such widespread back pain is an indication of poor spinal health education. For this reason, they observe ­­World Spine Day every October 16th. This year, St. John Ambulance is jumping in on the movement, offering you tips and tricks to maintain your spinal health, and address life-threatening injuries that may compromise the spine – because we’ve got your back.

If you experience back pain or want to prevent it in the future, read these helpful do’s and don’ts for good spinal health:

  • DO exercise more often. When your muscles are stronger, your risk of injuring them lowers. You can strengthen your back muscles using targeted exercises like deadlifts and kettlebell swings, but any physical activity helps.
  • DON’T overwork your back muscles. When people are doing heavy or repeated lifting, they assume that their backs should be doing all the work. In truth, you should let your legs take some of the brunt! Squat low before picking up a heavy object, and use your knees to lift yourself up with it. This will reduce strain on your back.
  • DO get up and move every hour in the office. Sitting in the same position for hours at a time can deform your spine. Take a short walk or grab a drink of water to stretch your back.
  • DON’T slouch in your seat. Bad posture will take a toll on your spine. Make a conscious effort to sit upright. Also, adjust your seats accordingly in your office and vehicle so that you can comfortably sit without slouching.
  • DO get better quality sleep. If you do not get a good night’s sleep, your body will not have the time it needs to recover after a long day of activity. Your back in particular can suffer from a lack of rest. Choosing a mattress and pillow that support the natural alignment of your spine is a great way to encourage better sleep – the more comfortable you are in bed, the higher quality sleep you will benefit from.
  • DON’T smoke. Nicotine can degrade the disks in your spine – a sure-fire reason for back pain amongst smokers. Quitting might not be able to reverse the damage already done, but it can prevent further degradation.

How to Handle a Spinal Injury

The disks in your spine do not just keep you upright. They also house your spinal cord. The spinal cord is a thick network of nerves that sends signals from your muscles, organs and body parts to and from your brain. When your spine is seriously injured, it can compromise this sensitive network of nerves. If broken or partially severed, a sufferer of a spinal injury may experience paralysis or death as a result. For this reason, extreme care is essential when administering first aid where there is a possibility of a spinal injury.

The Rick Hansen Foundation estimates that 4,300 Canadians develop spinal cord injuries every year. If you were a bystander, would you know what to do? Check out our infographic below to learn how to respond.

Spinal Injury Treatment Infographic

If you would like to learn more about emergency response for spinal injuries and other life-threatening situations, enrol in an Emergency or Standard First Aid course with St. John Ambulance! You can sign up online, over the phone, or in-person at your local branch.



No one can do a good job without the tools they need to succeed. An artist cannot paint his canvas without a brush, and a software programmer would be lost without her keyboard. That is why most workplaces offer the supplies you require at work for free or at a discounted price, so that they are accessible to all employees. However, not all the tools you need for work are concrete. For instance, if you do not feel safe or healthy in your workplace, your productivity will suffer. To raise awareness about the importance of workplace health and safety, we observe Canadian Healthy Workplace Month every October. St. John Ambulance can help, with information about worker rights, health and safety laws, and how you can foster a healthy workplace.

Understanding the Ontario Health and Safety Act

The Ontario Health and Safety Act outlines worker and supervisor rights at all workplaces across the province. Learning your rights is key to avoid exploitation and injury. St. John Ambulance provides a variety of online courses to help educate Ontarians about their rights at work. We recommend our Worker Health and Safety Awareness Course for all employees, and our Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness Course for all who oversee other workers. Both courses are available online, and in bulk, if you wish to train everyone in your office!

Still have some questions? No problem. St. John Ambulance has provided you with answers for frequently asked questions surrounding workplace safety, so you can learn about your rights. 

Q: Who is covered by the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA)?

A: The OHSA applies to almost all workers in Ontario, including workplace owners, constructors and suppliers of equipment or materials to workplaces covered by the Act. The only exceptions are work done by an owner on private property, and some workplaces under federal jurisdiction in some cases.

Q: What does the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) require me to do?

A: The OHSA specifies that workers have a responsibility to use reasonable protection within the workplace, and to act in a manner that does not endanger other workers. For example, they should:

  • Use any equipment or protective gear prescribed by the employer as intended
  • Notify the employer or supervisor about broken or malfunctioning equipment
  • Report any safety hazards to the employer or supervisor

Q: Does the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) have guidelines surrounding first aid?

A: The OHSA requires every workplace to have at least one trained First Aider and some basic first aid supplies. St. John Ambulance offers a variety of workplace first aid courses to satisfy local, provincial and national policies. We also offer workplace first aid kits that satisfy OHSA requirements. Learn what you need to satisfy regulations in your workplace:

Occupational Health and Safety Act Infographic

Q: What are my rights in the workplace?

A: Worker and supervisor rights in Ontario are defined by the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA). All employees have the legal right to:

  • Identify and resolve health and safety concerns
  • Know about health and safety hazards
  • Refuse work if it is unsafe

If your employer has violated your rights under the OHSA, you can consult your office’s Joint Health and Safety Committee for guidance. If you cannot reach a consensus on the matter, you may report it to the ministry of labour.

Q: What is a Joint Health and Safety Committee?

A: The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that employers with more than twenty regular workers maintain a Joint Health and Safety Committee. Our handy infographic below explains it all concisely!

Joint Health and Safety Committee Infographic

We offer special training to get one started in your workplace. Call your local branch to inquire about Joint Health and Safety Committee Certification Training today!



Costume parties, movie marathons, and boatloads of candy. These are only a few of the things that kids and adults alike can look forward to this Halloween. However, if you don’t put safety first, your festivities could become scary for all the wrong reasons. Don’t get spooked by safety concerns this Halloween. St. John Ambulance has all the tricks – and treats – you need for peace of mind.

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

There is only one night a year when kids can walk door-to-door down the street asking for candy from strangers. It is a treat for any child, but a worry for many parents. How can you protect your children while they walk around your neighbourhood at night? Have no fear! St. John Ambulance can help. Check out our handy guide for safe trick-or-treating below!

Trick-or-Treating Infographic

Spooky Costumes Made Easy

Your kids may look adorable in their elaborate Halloween costumes, complete with masks, capes and props. These get-ups might be suitable indoors, but they may become safety hazards at night where visibility is low. Eliminate hazards from your children’s Halloween costumes with these easy tips and tricks before they leave to trick-or-treat.

Safety Tips for Halloween Costumes Infographic

We hope our Halloween safety tips help your family make the most out of Halloween this year – safely, of course! Now all you have to worry about is how to get your kids out of their self-induced sugar highs. Want more health and safety tips? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for your daily dose of first aid knowledge.



Safety is our number one priority at St. John Ambulance. We believe that a little knowledge can go a long way towards bettering our neighbourhoods. However, some people in our communities still do not have the resources to pay for safety training. Unfortunately, these groups are often at highest risk for encountering dangerous situations where a bit of safety training could come in handy. Thankfully, we have over 12,000 volunteers helping us out to deliver every program to the public at a lower cost. By doing everything from facilitating therapy dog sessions to providing medical backup at public events, our volunteers form the backbone of our organization. Without them, we would not have sufficient resources to continue our mission of providing all Canadians with the ability to improve their health. We appreciate each and every volunteer, and encourage you to do the same – or make a donation – if you are not already involved.