8 Mnemonics to Know for Your Health and Safety
Find out how RACE, PASS, RICE and STOP could help you out of a jam
A mnemonic device is a memory tool, a trick for remembering a list or a string of words. You may have gotten an A in music class by memorizing “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” a mnemonic device for remembering the notes on the treble clef — E, G, B, D, F. Mnemonics also can be acronyms: “HOMES” can help you remember the names of the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.
These eight safety-related mnemonics won’t necessarily help you pass a test but they could help you remember what to do in a jam. They might even save your life.
RACE — Rescue, Alarm or Alert, Confine, Extinguish. If a fire breaks out, remember RACE. First, rescue anyone in danger from the fire. Second, pull the nearest fire alarm and call 911. Third, contain the fire by closing all doors around the fire area. Finally, extinguish small fires with a fire extinguisher, or in the case of larger fires, leave the area and let the professionals do the extinguishing.
PASS — Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep. Speaking of fire extinguishers, do you know how to use one? Just remember PASS. First, pull the lockpin from its place. Second, aim the nozzle of the fire extinguisher at the base of the flames. Third, squeeze the handles together. Last, sweep the fire extinguisher from side to side at the base of the flames.
FAST — Face, Arms, Speech, Time. This can help you remember the signs of a stroke. If someone is having a stroke, look at his face. Does one side of his smile droop? Check his arms: Do they have equal strength? How about his speech: Is it slurred? If you see any of these symptoms, get him to a hospital quickly, since time is brain, as stroke doctors say.
BRATTY — Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, Tea, Yogurt. Have a stomach bug?
Then this one’s for you. It helps you remember what to eat if you
have a case of diarrhea.
COLD — Clean, Overheat, Layers, Dry. Think COLD to keep from feeling cold if you’re going camping in the winter. COLD reminds you how to dress outdoors in chilly weather. Wear clean clothes because dirty clothes lose their loft and aren't as warm as they could be. Avoid overheating — don’t get sweaty. Dress in layers for easier temperature control. And change into dry clothes if yours get wet, as they lose their insulation.
Related: Safer Winter Hiking Tips
RICE — Rest, Immobilize, Cold, Elevate. Remember this if you’re treating a sprain. Rest the injured area and avoid movements that cause pain. Immobilize it to prevent further damage. Apply ice or a cold pack to reduce swelling and ease pain. And elevate the injured area above the heart to further reduce swelling.
The ABCs of CPR — Airway, Breathing, Compression. If someone needs CPR, open her airway by lifting up her chin with one hand while pushing down on her forehead with the other. If she still isn’t breathing, begin rescue breathing. Pinch her nose shut with your thumb and forefinger. Inhale normally, then give two full breaths lasting one second each. Next comes the compression part. After giving two full breaths, kneel at her side and place the heel of your hand on her sternum, which is above the notch in the center of her chest. Place your other hand on top of the first hand and lace your fingers together. Press down hard and fast 30 times, keeping your arms straight.
STOP — Sit, Think, Observe, Plan. If you’re in the forest and lose your way, stop — literally. The U.S. Forest Service says panic is your worst enemy. When you realize you’re lost, stay put and don’t wander. Then think: Are there landmarks you can see? How did you get to where you are? Observe your compass (if you have one), trail signs or streams. Come up with possible plans, but only act on them if you’re confident about where you are. If you’re not, or if It’s nighttime, stay put.
Have something you need to remember? Try this “Mnemonic Device Device” from NASA, which lets you to enter what you want to remember, and then creates a mnemonic device for you.