You Can Save a Life by Knowing How to Use an EpiPen — Here's Exactly What to Do

While you hope you'll never have to use them, there are some life-saving skills that are great to know just in case you need them, like CPR or the Heimlich maneuver. Another one that's great to know is how to use an EpiPen to help someone who's in anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction. EpiPens, which have epinephrine in them to help alleviate allergic reactions until medical attention can be sought, are very easy to use. TikToker Faith Pancoast shared a video demonstrating how to use an EpiPen with her own advice added in. As someone who has used EpiPens, Faith breaks down everything you need to know about the experience in a way that's super easy to understand and takes some of the nervousness out of the situation. Ahead, we break down the step-by-step instructions for how to use an EpiPen in case of emergency, as well as more tips for what to do if you're around someone experiencing anaphylaxis.

How to Use an EpiPen

  1. Pop the top off the EpiPen case, and remove the EpiPen.
  2. Remove the blue top from the EpiPen.
  3. Hold the EpiPen in your hand with the orange end facing down.
  4. Without covering the blue end of the EpiPen, sharply jab the orange end of the EpiPen into the outer thigh. A trick to remember which end to use is "blue to the sky, orange to the thigh." You won't see the needle go in, but the pen should click, which is a signal that it's working. It can also puncture clothing, so don't worry about removing any pants before administering the shot.
  5. Hold in place for 10 seconds. Newer EpiPens only require three seconds, but older ones require 10. It's OK to hold it longer to be sure. Faith recommends counting out loud, since people tend to count much faster in their heads.
  6. Remove the EpiPen, and put it back in the case.

What to Do When Someone Requires an EpiPen

If you're with someone who requires an EpiPen, it's important to remain calm. By following the above instructions, you can quite literally save their life if they have an anaphylactic reaction. One important note that this TikToker shares is to call 911 or take the person to get medical help regardless of what they say. While an EpiPen can help stave off the allergic reaction, they will require additional medical intervention, so always seek medical help after you've used an EpiPen.

How to Dispose of an EpiPen

One of the most important steps in helping someone with an EpiPen is actually not disposing of it. Save the EpiPen so you can give it to the medical professionals who take over administering care after you. If this is an EMT, give them the EpiPen so they know how much medication was administered. If you take the person to the hospital, bring the EpiPen along and give it to the doctors for the same reason. They'll dispose of it for you. However, if you end up with a spent needle that needs to be disposed of after the person you've helped is OK, treat it the same way you'd dispose of sharps by taking it to a medical facility. If you regularly use needles at home, you may already have a sharps container that you use for disposal, which you can also use in this case.