When you come across an accident your first instinct may be to rush in and help. But if you don’t know what you’re doing you can actually cause more damage and injury. There are things you can do that will help and you don’t need certification or extensive training to do it.

The first thing is to quickly take stock of what’s around you. Are there any potential hazards like downed power lines, fires, or dangerous metal shards and broken glass lying about that can injure first responders when they arrive? You also need to make sure your safe so understanding the dangers will help you not become another statistic.

Once you are ready to approach the victims, move slowly and deliberately. Do not move them!  Kneel down next to them and speak to them. Try to keep them calm by saying hello and tell them your name. If they are not responding, check the person’s airway to make sure they can still breathe. In order to this lift their head back gently and put your cheek in front of their mouth to feel if they are breathing. Look at their chest for movement.

Next look for bleeding. Stem the flow as best you can. When a person loses a lot of blood there’s a greater chance of them going into shock. Grab some cloth and press on the wound. If they can hold it against the wound themselves they should as it will also give them something to focus on. Again you should not move any victim if they can’t move themselves.

Another tip to help a person at risk of shock (which is a real issue in crashes), is to loosen tight clothing and put a blanket or coats over them to keep them warm. You should then raise their legs. This will help blood flow.

The biggest thing is to reduce the amount of panic which is natural in a traumatic event. The best way is for you to keep yourself calm and steady. Your actions can save a life of someone at risk of injury.