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First Aid Myths: Ignore These Summer 'Cures'

Experts share first aid tips while debunking some common home remedies.

Myth: If You Twist a Knee or Ankle, Apply Cold Only

If you hurt a joint, what to do depends on the stage of the injury, Thornton says. The RICE acronym can help you remember how to immediately treat an injury. Rest the injured area, ice it for 20 minutes for the first 24 hours (remove for at least 20 to 40 minutes in between), lightly compress it with a bandage, and elevate over the level of the heart.

What about heat? "I don't apply heat if there is swelling. But if the swelling goes on a few weeks, you can try a contrast bath -- heat, cold, heat, cold," Thornton says. "If there is no swelling, heat may be soothing. Sometimes, before a workout, heat can warm up the area, too."

If you cannot stand or walk, you should seek medical attention.

Myth: Put Vinegar Compresses on a Sunburn

Acid on a burn? O'Brien cringes. "You shouldn't get a sunburn," he says. "But if you do, apply cool compresses. This is inflammation. Although I am a little reluctant to give everyone over-the-counter painkillers these days, I think ibuprofen is great for sunburn pain and inflammation." O'Brien says old-fashioned Noxzema also lowers the skin temperature. He's a fan.

Myth: If You Get a Bee Sting, You Must Squeeze Out the Stinger

Never do this! Squeezing the stinger may allow venom still in the sac to get into your system. "Scrape the stinger out with a credit card," O'Brien says. "Even those acrylic nails work, if they are clean." If the person is getting red or having trouble breathing, dial 911. This can be serious or even fatal.

Myth: You Need to Get the Venom Out of a Snakebite as Soon as Possible

Cowboys may put stock in sucking the venom out of a snakebite, but it is a huge no-no. "Do not use suction," O'Brien says. This can introduce more germs and bacteria. Also don't allow the victim to run for help, this speeds the tissue-destroying or nerve-paralyzing venom.

Remove tight clothing and rings from the victim and get to the emergency department immediately. Keep the affected area immobile and, if possible, below the level of the heart. "I don't even recommend tourniquets," O'Brien says. "People don't know how to use these."

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