Distributing Aid in Spanish: Impactful Vocabulary and Useful Phrases
The reality of the world can be devastating—earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes ravish countries around the world. Because of Latin America’s location between two oceans and along major fault lines, it is a prime location for natural disasters. How can you help? Well, the first step is to equip yourself with useful Spanish vocabulary to go and distribute aid in a Spanish-speaking area. The truth is, whether you’re abroad or in the United States, your Spanish skills are an essential advantage while volunteering (read more about why you should learn Spanish). Wherever you plan on going (or even staying in your own town), the following vocabulary and phrases for first aid in Spanish are crucial to properly serve those in need. ¿Listo para ayudar a los demás?
First Aid in Spanish
Aid comes in many shapes and sizes, but what probably first comes to mind is that little white box with a red cross that you keep in the car: the first aid kit! Basic medical knowledge is a great skill, but make sure you know your first aid in Spanish so you can help more people. Below are several objects that you usually find in a first aid kit. Try pronouncing them using the pronunciation key!
|First aid||Los primeros auxilios||pree-may-rohs awk-zee-lee-ohs|
|First aid kit||El botiquín de primeros auxilios||boh-tee-keen day pree-may-rohs awk-zee-lee-ohs|
|Hand sanitizer||El gel antibacterial||hel ahn-tee-bahk-tayr-ee-ahl|
|Pain killers||El analgésico||ahn-ahl-hay-see-coh|
|Blood pressure||El esfigmomanómetro / el tensiómetro||ays-feeg-mohm-ahn-oh-may-troh /tain-see-oh-may-troh|
|Rash cream||La crema para el sarpullido||cray-mah pah-rah ayl sahr-poo-yee-doh|
|Antibiotic cream||La crema antibiótica||cray-mah ahn-tee-bee-oh-tee-cah|
|Oxygen mask||La mascarilla de oxígeno||mahs-kahr-ee-yah day ohk-see-hen-oh|
|Eyewash||El baño ocular||bahn-yoh oh-coo-lahr|
|Brace||El aparato ortopédico||ah-pah-rah-toh ohr-toh-pay-dee-coh|
|Eye dressings||Los apósitos de ojos||ah-poh-see-tohs day oh-hohs|
Phrases for Using First Aid in Spanish
Some of these words are pretty long, so take some time to practice them before going out onto the field. Here are some first-aid-related phrases to use that will allow you to make a higher impact while you distribute aid in Spanish.
- ¿Dónde te duele? – Where does it hurt?
- ¿Por cuánto tiempo lo has tenido? – How long have you had this?
- ¿Me permites limpiar la herida? – May I clean the wound?
- Respira profundamente. – Breathe deeply.
- Tranquilo/a. – Don’t worry/calm down.
Of course, when working in emergency situations, you must work alongside professionals (maybe you are one yourself!). Use the chart below to learn about the names of the first responders and their vehicles so you can work together to distribute first aid in Spanish.
|First responders||El/la profesional de primeros auxilios||proh-fay-see-ohn-ahl day pree-mair-ohs awk-zee-lee-ohs|
|Fire truck||El camión de bomberos||cah-mee-ohn day bohm-bair-ohs|
|Police Car||La patrulla||pah-troo-yah|
|Coast guard||El guardacostas||gwar-dah cohs-tahs|
Remember Regional Phrases
Keep in mind that while there are formal words for many things in Spanish, not everyone uses them. Spanish is such a widely spoken language that every area has its own way of saying things. One example of this is with the paramedics. In regions throughout Central America, people will not say “call an ambulance” or “the paramedics are on their way.” Instead, they will say “call the firefighters” and “the firefighters are on their way.” In Spanish, that would be:
Llama a los bomberos.
Ya vienen los bomberos.
While a bombero is technically a firefighter, it is commonly used for the ambulance and paramedics. Spanish always keeps you on your toes!
A big part of distributing first aid in Spanish is making sure people have the basics: food and toiletries. Take a look at how to say the basics in Spanish.
|Basket of essentials||La canasta básica||cah-nah-stah bah-see-cah|
|Food||La comida/los alimentos||coh-mee-dah/|
|Cooking oil||El aceite comestible||ah-say-tay coh-mays-tee-blay|
|Clean water||El agua pura||ah-gwah pooh-rah|
|Canned food||Los alimentos enlatados||ah-lee-main-tohs ayn-lah-tah-dohs|
|Instant food||La comida instantánea||coh-mee-dah een-stahn-tahn-ay-ah|
|Toilet paper||El papel higiénico||pah-pail ee-hee-ayn-ee-coh|
Los víveres and la canasta básica are common words throughout Latin America. There is a large percentage of locals living in poverty, so organizations, ministries, and neighbors often put together a canasta básica for a family in need or distribute víveres to those in need. Look at the word víveres. What other word in Spanish does it remind you of? Vivir? Exactly! Víveres comes from the word vivir, or “to live.” Basically, víveres are essential supplies that people need to survive. These objects vary depending on what country you are in, so be sure to ask around about what type of food the people in that area consider essential.
El azúcar and la azúcar
Yes, yes you read that right. “Sugar” can be both feminine and masculine in Spanish. At least this is one word you don’t need to memorize the article for because both are correct!
El agua pura
Speaking of articles, let’s talk about el agua pura. Agua is a feminine noun, but because it starts with an “ah” sound, the article changes to el. However, any adjective describing the water, like pura, will always be feminine. Why do we even need to include the word pura here? In many Latin American countries, especially in disaster areas, the tap water is unsafe to drink. Clean water, or agua pura, can be a lifesaver for drinking, cooking, and washing wounds.
Food and medical attention aren’t the only necessary aid. When families and communities are displaced by natural disasters or war, they often need basic supplies to rebuild their lives and create a new home. Check out the vocabulary below to get a glimpse of what first aid in Spanish may be needed.
|Essential supplies||Los suministros esenciales||soo-meen-ee-strohs ay-sayn-see-ah-lays|
|Toiletries||Los productos del baño||proh-dook-tohs|
|Toothbrush||El cepillo de dientes||say-pee-yoh day dee-ayn-tays|
|Toothpaste||La pasta dental||pah-stah dayn-tahl|
|Baby formula||La fórmula infantil||fohr-moo-lah een-fahn-teel|
|Children’s/women’s/men’s clothes||Ropa de niño/mujer/hombre||roh-pah day neen-yoh/moo-hair/|
|Wet wipes||Las toallas húmedas||toah-ah-yahs oo-may-dahs|
Phrases for Distributing Essentials
When you distribute aid in Spanish, be flexible! Each case is different, and some people may need different things or more than you expected. Here are some phrases to help you navigate these conversations:
- ¿Cuántas personas hay en tu familia? – How many people are in your family?
- ¿Cuántos niños hay? – How many kids are there?
- ¿De qué talla necesitas? – What size do you need?
- ¿Cuántos necesitas? – How many do you need?
- ¿Es esto suficiente? – Is this enough?
- ¿En qué más te puedo ayudar? – What else can I help you with?
Alright! You have the basics down, and you are ready to go and distribute first aid in Spanish! If you would like to practice with a native speaker before you leave, try a free class with us! You can ask for help with additional vocabulary or practice your pronunciation with them. Either way, your skills will definitely improve with live classes. Learn more about how they work! ¡Buena suerte con la distribución de la ayuda!
Would you like to learn more medical Spanish? Check these out!
- 9 Excellent Medical Spanish Courses Online for Healthcare Professionals
- 50 Essential Medical Spanish Phrases for Your Upcoming Physical
- Distributing Aid in Spanish: Impactful Vocabulary and Useful Phrases
- 9 Medical Specialist Jobs in the U.S. That Pay More to Be Bilingual
- It’s An Emergency! Why American Doctors Need to Know Medical Spanish
- Going to the Doctor in Spanish
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