Kissing away our kids’ painful ouchies will only take them so far! Try equipping your little ones with some basic first aid skills instead, to prepare them for future emergencies. It’s never too early to start, either. Studies have shown that kindergarteners as young as four or five-years-old already have the capacity to learn and perform basic first aid.
Here are six key skills that you can start teaching your child today:
1) Calling 999
Make sure your child knows how to call 999 for professional help during an emergency. Stick this number up next to your phone. If you live in an apartment, make sure your child knows what floor you live on. Teach younger children how to operate a phone, and also highlight what constitutes an emergency. We certainly wouldn’t want the police to be called in, just because baby brother broke his big sister’s favourite toy!
2) Using a first aid kit
Children love role playing doctor! Build on their interest by showing them how to use basic first aid supplies, such as plasters, saline sprays, bandages and thermometers. Do have a child-appropriate first aid kit with these essentials easily accessible to your child in emergencies.
Depending on the age of your child (or if they have younger siblings around), keep toxic items separate in a more complete first aid kit, locked high away from the reach of little hands.
3) Fire safety
Make sure your child is aware of appropriate fire safety responses. If the house fills with smoke, stay low and crawl to the nearest exit. If their clothes catch fire, they should know how to stop, drop and roll.
Incorporate some fun into your child’s lessons through the use of fire safety games, or practice fire drills. Pretend to ring a fire bell and shout out the details of a mock fire emergency, as your child decides on the appropriate actions to take.
4) Stopping bleeding
Cuts and scrapes are part and parcel of growing up. But what happens if that ugly gash is bleeding badly? Teach your child to apply pressure on their wound with a clean cloth or bandage (stored in the first aid kit). Do not remove the first bandage if it is soaked through, but place another clean one on top.
Remind your kids to check on their wounds, even after the bleeding has stopped, in order to assess the seriousness of their injury. If the wound doesn’t stop bleeding however, you and your child should know how to seek external help.
5) Treating burns
Even for those of us with an off-limits kitchen area, accidental burns might result from something as unexpected as a spilt cup of hot coffee. Make sure your child knows not to apply ice packs on the affected area, as this can further damage the tissues. Instead, hold the area under cool (not cold) running water for a minimum of 20 minutes. Apply cool, wet compresses until the pain subsides.
6) Treating nosebleeds
Nosebleeds can be frightening, especially for younger children. If your child has not experienced one yet, do prepare them for this highly possible scenario. Remind your child that nosebleeds are almost always harmless. Teach them to sit down and lean their head slightly forward, breathing through their mouths. Your child should then pinch their noses just below the bridge for at least 10 minutes, and be patient. Applying a cold compress to the nose bridge area will also help.
Supplement your first aid home lessons with books and online videos:
- The Kids Guide To First Aid– a handbook about managing all the bumps, sprains and scrapes kids get into;
- Freya The First Aider – a story book on first aid (available in both physical and digital form);
- BBC Teach – a series of free short videos, suitable for 7 to 11 year olds, that highlight key first aid skills; and
- British Red Cross– engaging activities and videos involving six fun characters that teach kids about the basics of first aid.
Another thing families could consider would be to join a first aid course by professionals (and get certified along the way!) After all, this useful lifelong knowledge could wind up saving lives someday. There are many reputable courses run by providers such as St John Ambulance of Malaysia and Malaysian Red Crescent Society. Child first aid courses are also available for your little ones to equip them with key skills from an early age.
Lastly and most importantly: always teach your child to stay calm in an emergency situation.
We have all experienced a time when logic gets thrown out the window, as soon as panic sets in! Getting ourselves (and our children) to keep calm and carry on during an emergency can often mean that half the battle is won already.