Last September, we shared with you 6 Basic First Aid Skills to Teach Your Child. This year, in conjunction with World First Aid Day, we’re highlighting 6 essential first aid skills that will be useful for all of us parents to have in our back pockets! After all, bumps, bruises and boo-boos are all a part of growing up, and we’d certainly like to be well-prepared for both the little ouchies and the possibility of slightly more serious injuries!
Here are 6 common kid related mishaps, and what you can do to deal with such situations:
Our children often grow from being curious little climbers to older active runners, leading (unfortunately) to the possibility of a broken bone (or two) as they grow. No matter how small it seems, all broken bones need medical care – and the only way to accurately diagnose a broken bone is to have it x-rayed. If you’re ever in doubt (remember: even though your child might be able to move their limb or stand on it, the bone may still be fractured), get the injury checked out.
Here’s what you can do in the interim:
- Ice it: Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth.
- Support: Keep the injured limb the same way you found it, and don’t try to reposition it in any way. If possible, support the limb above and below the injury to prevent it from moving. You can put a simple splint (makeshift ones using cardboard, folded up newspapers and an elastic bandage or tape works too) on the broken area, while waiting to see the doctor.
- Medical care: Seek professional advice, when in doubt.
2. Cuts and Scrapes
From falling off a bike, to accidental cuts due to learning to use scissors, most cuts and scrapes can be easily treated at home with a first aid kit (and lots of cuddles and kisses). Seek medical attention though, if the wound is deep, gaping, won’t stop bleeding, or is located around sensitive areas.
Follow these steps:
- Clean wound: Clean the wound with cool water and apply a gauze or clean cloth over it.
- Stop the bleeding: Apply slight pressure and elevate the area where the wound is. If the bandage soaks through, do not change the bandage – simply place another one on top.
- Treat the wound: Apply an antibacterial cream over the wound.
3. Febrile Seizures
Most parents would have experienced that dreaded high fever that stubbornly refuses to subside (and the consistent spikes through the night). We fear it may lead to fits in our young children, and that it may cause cause brain damage. Some good news here, though. Contrary to popular belief, seizures caused by a fever, aka febrile seizures, are different from epilepsy and do not cause brain damage.
In the event your child experiences such seizures, here’s what you should do:
- Lay your child on the floor: Keep your child safe on the floor and away from things they may knock against.
- Do not restrain: Do not slap, shake or force anything in your child’s mouth (it’s a myth – no spoons in the mouths of anyone having a seizure, please)!
- Keep track: Take note of the time the fit lasts for. Call for an ambulance, if the convulsion does not stop within 5 minutes.
- Recovery position: Roll your child onto their side once the convulsion has stopped. If there is food in their mouth, do not remove it and simply turn their head to the side.
- Visit the clinic: Once the fit stops, get your child checked by a doctor.
4. Choking (in a conscious individual*)
(*if your child loses consciousness, begin CPR)
If you’ve ever dug out little knick knacks out of your tot’s mouth- you’re not alone (they just have the tendency to find the most random choking hazards lying around, don’t they?). Despite our best efforts in child-proofing our environment and preparing kid-friendly meals, it’s still best to know what to do if choking occurs.
Take note of these steps:
Check mouth: Remove the object with your fingers, only if you see something obvious. Never put your fingers down a throat or finger sweep the mouth- you may end up pushing the obstruction further down.
Five Back Blows:
- (For a baby)– Place your baby across your forearm and across your seated lap, and support them below the chin. Give up to five firm back blows between the shoulder blades with the flat of your hand.
- (For a child)– Kneel down behind and bend your child over at the waist until the upper body is parallel with the ground. Give up to five firm back blows between the shoulder blades with the palm heel of your hand.
(Check between each back blow to see if the object has cleared. If the object is still stuck after, move on to step 3.)
(a) Five Chest Thrust
- (Below the age of 1): Lie your baby on their back and give five firm chest thrusts. Place two fingers in the centre of the chest, just below the nipple line, and push down hard and fast, roughly one third of the depth of their chest.
(b) Five Abdominal Thrusts
- (Above 1 years old): Perform the Heimlich manoeuvre. Place a fist slightly above the navel and grasp your fist with the other hand. Place the thumb side of your fist just below the ribcage (about two inches above belly button). Give five sharp and quick thrusts inwards and upwards.
Alternate: Alternate between five back blows and five chest/abdominal thrusts if the object has not been dislodged, until help arrives.
What should you do if your child swallows a battery?
With the stark increase of children ending up in the Emergency Room (ER) from swallowing batteries in the past decade in the United States, here’s some useful advice, if your child ends up swallowing (but not choking on) batteries:
- Seek medical help immediately! Batteries that get stuck in the oesophagus will cause internal chemical burns.
- Give 2 teaspoons of honey every 10 minutes (for up to 6 hours) for children above 12 months old to coat the battery and delay burns to the tissue, when you are on the way to the ER.
- Make your child vomit.
- Give your child anything to eat or drink.
5. Burns and Scalds
If your mini me attempts to ‘make dinner’ independently without your knowledge, and ends up with a first degree burn, or spills some of your hot coffee on themselves, here’s what to do:
- Cool the burn: As soon as possible, place the burn area under running cool water for at least 20 minutes.
- Manage stuck clothing: Don’t try to peel away clothing that is stuck to the skin, cut the cloth surrounding it instead. Seek medical assistance to remove the stuck clothes.
- Cover the burn: Antibiotic cream and a clean gauze could do the trick for first degree burns. Do not put ice, butter or grease on the burn. Second and third degree burns require immediate medical attention.
6. Bumps on the Head
Whether it’s the first time your baby falls off the bed, or the hundredth time your active child has had a fall, light bumps to the head are usually not an issue. If your child merely develops a slight bruise (or a goose-egg) and doesn’t lose consciousness, monitor your child over the next few days, and contact your paediatrician, if you have any concerns.
- Use a cold pack: Apply a cold compress for up to 20 minutes to reduce swelling and pain. Do not put ice directly onto the injury.
- Monitor the signs: The size of the bump does not correlate to the severity of the injury. Seek medical attention immediately if your child:
- is unusually drowsy
- can’t be woken from sleep
- is vomiting
- has a headache
- seems generally disoriented; or
- displays any other concerning behaviour
List of Emergency Contacts:
Do call 999 for emergencies so that the operator can connect you to the nearest ambulance.
Other Ambulance Services:
First Ambulance: 1300-88-1919
St John Ambulance: 03- 9285 5294 (Kuala Lumpur) / 03-3371 5005 (Selangor)
MMR Ambulance: 011- 2660 6026
Malaysia Red Crescent: 019- 380 2677
Looking to equip your kids with some important life skills? Read our previous article: Rescue-Ready: 6 Basic First Aid Skills To Teach Your Child