Lifesaving Mnemonics to Know

03 Sep 2021

Mnemonic devices — a set of letters or associations that help you remember things — are certainly helpful. But did you know that sometimes, they could also save your life?

FAST for Stroke Symptoms

The acronym FAST stands for stroke symptoms:

F — face drooping (ask the person to smile to check)

A — arm weakness (to test, have them raise both arms)

S — speech difficulty (test by having them repeat a simple sentence)

T — time to call 112

Call 112 if someone shows sudden symptoms, like:



Trouble seeing

Trouble walking

A very bad headache

Even if the symptoms pass, you should still go to the hospital.


Use CAB to remember the order of CPR steps:

C for chest compression

A for airway

B for breathing

Give 100-120 compressions per minute over the middle of the person’s chest to help blood pump to the brain.

After 30 chest compressions, tilt the head back and lift the chin. This helps open the airway.

If you’re trained in CPR, make a seal over the person’s mouth and pinch their nose shut before giving them two rescue breaths.

ABC for Bleeding

 It’s critical to know how to stop serious bleeding if you or another person is injured. In that situation, remember the A-B-C of first aid for bleeding:

– Alert: Notify help or have someone do it for you, if possible.

– Bleeding: Find the location of the bleeding wound.

– Compress: Apply pressure to stop the flow of blood using a tourniquet. If you don’t have one, place bandages or a clean cloth on the wound and push directly on the wound with your hands. 

Use RICE After an Injury

Remember RICE if you get hurt, like a knee or ankle sprain. It stands for:

– Rest. Rest and protect the injured area.

– Ice. Ice the area as soon as possible to help stop or lessen swelling and pain.

– Compression. Wrap the area with an elastic bandage to help lessen swelling.  But don’t wrap it too tightly. That can make things worse.

– Elevation. Elevate the area at or above heart level with pillows when you lie or sit down. That will help the swelling go down.  


The mnemonic device PASS can help you remember how to use a fire extinguisher correctly.

Here’s what PASS stands for:

– Pull the fire extinguisher’s pin.

– Aim the nozzle of the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire.

– Squeeze or press the fire extinguisher’s handle.

– Sweep from side to side until the fire is put out.

Survive a Terrorist or active shooter Attack With ‘Run, Hide, Tell’

It means:

– Run. Run to a safe place as fast as you can. Don’t surrender or try to negotiate.

– Hide. Hide, especially if there’s nowhere to run. Try to barricade yourself in your hiding spot. Silence your phone right away — don’t use the vibrate setting. 

– Tell. Tell the police by calling 112, but only when it’s completely safe. 

Save Someone From Drowning With ‘Reach, Throw, Don’t Go’

When someone is drowning, you should never jump in to rescue them. Instead, remember “Reach, Throw, Don’t Go”:

– Reach. Reach for the person as you lie on your stomach so you’re not pulled into the water. If you can, try to use a long item that the person can grab.

– Throw. Throw an item that floats.

Don’t go. Don’t jump into the water. Even if you think you can save yourself and the person, don’t jump in unless you have a float. 

Know the ‘Rule of Three’ for Survival

The “Rule of Three” can help you survive, especially if you’re lost or in trouble. Remember, you can live:

3 minutes without air

3 hours without warmth

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

Recognize Hypothermia With ‘Umble’ Words

Hypothermia is when your body temperature gets below 95 F. This is a medical emergency.

To recognize when someone has hypothermia, remember the “umble” words: grumble, mumble, stumble, or fumble. These can be signs that a person’s body temperature is dangerously low.  Other signs to look out for include:

– Shivering

– Exhaustion

– Confusion

– Memory loss

In babies, look for cold, red skin, and low energy. 

‘Stop, Drop, Roll’ if You’re on Fire

If your clothes catch fire, remember “Stop, Drop, Roll.” That means:

– Stop. Stop right where you are.

– Drop. Drop to the ground. Cover your mouth and eyes with your hands to protect them.

– Roll. Roll over back and forth until the movement puts the flames out.

BRAT for Upset Stomach?

BRAT stands for the diet that some doctors used to suggest for an upset tummy, especially for kids:

– Bananas

– Rice cereal

– Apple sauce

– Toast or Tea

These foods alone don’t have enough nutrients to help you get better. If you or your child have an upset stomach, eat what you normally do but stay away from spicy, fatty, or sugary foods. An over-the-counter electrolyte drink will help put back lost fluids.

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