Raising Children #4 – First Aid

Injured bear with a first aid kit
Make sure your first aid kit is easily accessible and well stocked to deal with any emergency

Parents can become rightly obsessed with providing a safe and protective environment for their family.  However, getting injured is unfortunately a very common part of childhood.  Identifying areas of risk and making the best effort for prevention is essential, but no matter how many stair gates you put up, accidents will still happen.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust highlights the main causes of accident and injury as follows:

  • Choking (food, small toys), suffocation (while sleeping) and strangulation (blind cords, ribbons, string).
  • Falls (from furniture, balconies, windows, bikes, down the stairs or while being carried).
  • Poisoning (from medicines, household chemicals, button batteries and electronic cigarette refills).
  • Burns and Scalds (from hot drinks, pots, pans, hair straighteners and bath water).
  • Drowning (whilst in the bath, paddling pool or ponds).

Knowing what to do if the worst has happened depends largely on what exactly has happened and how severe the injury is.  Symptoms that require emergency treatment include loss of consciousness, seizure, uncontrollable bleeding and serious confusion or other changes in behaviour after an injury.  If you think that someone’s life is at risk, then call an ambulance immediately (999 in the UK).  If you’re unsure and can’t get to a GP surgery and are worried about an urgent medical concern then call 111 to speak to a fully trained NHS advisor.

The best thing that anyone can do in the event that someone has been injured is to stay calm and provide reassurance.  The best way to ensure that you do not become stressed in a First Aid situation is to ensure that you know what to do.

Disclosure: I am not a doctor or a first aid instructor.  The following points are only intended as helpful reminders and signposts to further information.  I recommend that all parents attend formal first aid training.  Details of training courses are at the bottom of the page.

ACTION ON AN UNRESPONSIVE CHILD

Baby:

If you are by yourself, give CPR for 1 minute and then take the baby with you to call for help.

Open the airway by placing your hand on the baby’s forehead and then gently tilt the head back.  Use your other hand to gently lift the point of the chin.

Make a seal with your mouth around the baby’s mouth and nose and blow steadily for 1 second.  You should be able to see the baby’s chest rise and when you take your mouth away the chest should fall.  Do 5 initial breaths (5 puffs).

Now give 30 chest compressions (30 pumps).  Use 2 fingers on the centre of the baby’s chest and press down one-third of the depth of the chest.  Keep a rhythm of 2 compressions per second.

Continue with 2 puffs, to 30 pumps until help arrives.  If the baby starts breathing, then stop and cradle the baby in the recovery position.

Children:

Open the airway.  Make a seal by pinching the nose and sealing your lips around the child’s mouth.  Blow steadily until the chest rises and then remove your mouth and allow the chest to fall.  Do 5 initial breaths.

Now give 30 chest compressions.  Place the heel of 1 hand on the centre of the chest, towards the end of the breastbone, keeping your fingers off the ribs and press down one-third of the depth of the chest.  Release the pressure without removing your hand from their chest and allow the chest to come back up fully.  Keep a rhythm of 2 compressions per second.

Remember to call for help after 1 minute if you are alone.  Continue with 2 puffs to 30 pumps until help arrives.  If the child starts breathing then stop and put them in the recovery position.

ACTION ON CHOKING

Baby:

Lay your baby face down across your thigh and support their head.

SLAP: Give up to 5 blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

Lay your baby face up and check their mouth.  Carefully pick out any objects with your finger-tips.

SQUEEZE: Using 2 fingers give up to 5 downward chest thrusts.

If they are still choking call for ambulance and continue to Slap and Squeeze.  If they become unresponsive at any point, then check their breathing.  If breathing has stopped then start CPR.

Children:

Try and get them to cough out what they have in their throat.

SLAP:  If they can’t cough it out, then help the child bend forward and use the heel of the hand to give up to 5 sharp blows between their shoulder blades.

Check their mouth to see if you can see anything and if you can, get them to pick it out.

SQUEEZE:  If the back blows don’t work, then try 5 abdominal thrusts.  Stand behind the child making sure they are bending forward.  Link your hands between their tummy button and the bottom of their chest with your lower hand clenched in a fist.  Pull sharply inwards and upwards.

If they are still choking call for ambulance and continue to Slap and Squeeze.  If they become unresponsive at any point, then check their breathing.  If breathing has stopped then start CPR.

ACTION ON BURNS

If your child has been burnt, then cool the burn by running the affected area under cold water for at least 10 minutes.

Remove any clothing, unless it is stuck to the burn.

Do not use ice, gels or creams as these can cause infection.  Cover with cling film to prevent infection.

Serious burns need emergency attention.

ACTION ON SEVERE BLEEDING

Remove or cut off any clothing to uncover the wound.

Leave any objects in the wound alone.  Do not try and pull them out.  Instead, apply pressure either side using a pad.

If there is nothing in the wound, apply direct pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.  Firmly secure a dressing using a bandage.

Use a sterile dressing or a non-fluffy clean cloth.  If the blood soaks through, apply a second dressing over the top.

ACTION ON SHOCK

Shock is a life-threatening condition caused by a reduction in blood or oxygen getting to the important organs in the body.

It can be caused by bleeding (internal or external), loss of fluids (from dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting or burns), severe allergic reactions or infection.

If your child is going into shock, then try and treat the problem (stop bleeding, rehydrate, treat burns).

If is a baby in shock, cradle them in your arms.  For older children, lay them down with feet elevated and supported on a cushion.

Stay with them, keep them calm and reassure them.   Keep them warm with a blanket.

Loosen any tight clothing around the neck, chest and waist.

SPINAL INJURY

If you suspect that your child has a spinal injury you must protect their head and neck from moving to prevent further damage.  Kneel or lie behind their head and rest your elbows on the ground to keep your arms steady.  Grip and support their head, without covering their ears, so that head, neck and spine are in a straight line.  If they become unresponsive then conduct CPR.

BROKEN BONES

Support the injured body part to keep it still.  Call for an ambulance and keep the casualty as still as possible.

If the bone has punctured the skin (open fracture) then cover the wound with a dressing and secure with a bandage.  Apply pressure to control bleeding.

Check the casualty for signs of shock.

First Aid Kits

There are some great first aid kits available online.  You may wish to personalise them with any additional items that you might need. Click on the picture below to see a good example of first aid kit contents through my amazon affiliate link:

Medicine Cabinet

It’s also worth having a well-stocked medicine cabinet as most accidents will happen when the shops are closed.

In addition to what’s included in the first aid kit above, you may wish to include:

  • Thermometer.
  • Pain killers like liquid paracetamol and ibrufen.
  • Antiseptic cream, liquid or wipes.
  • TCP.
  • Antihistamines.
  • Oral rehydration salts.
  • Eye wash solution.
  • Head lice treatment (enough for the whole family).
  • Thread worm treatment (enough for the whole family).
  • Decongestant aids such as Olbas oil, lozenges, cough medicine and Vics vapour rub.
  • Cold sore cream.
  • Mouth Ulcer gel.
  • Ice packs in the freezer.

Follow the instructions on the packaging.

Store medicine in a cool, dry place (not in a bathroom)

Check expiration dates and put markers in your diary for short shelf life specialist medicines.

Keep all medicine out of reach of young children – but ensure that family members know where the first aid kit is in case they need to fetch it.

First Aid Courses

St Johns Ambulance Paediatric First Aid Course

Red Cross First Aid Course

If you found this useful then check out my other posts in the ‘101 thoughts on raising children’ series:

101 Thoughts on Raising Children

I will add one every week, so follow me if you don’t want to miss out.  I’d also love to hear any ideas, comments or feedback that you would like to share.

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