All parents want to shield their children from harm and protect them from all the ills of the world. Unfortunately, bubble wrap isn’t yet a fashion trend, and we have to allow our children to explore their environments. While it’s inevitable that most kids will become injured at some point, the best way to ease your mind is to learn a few essential first aid skills so you’re prepared for the inevitable injury.
Basic Life Support and CPR
Providing CPR and rescue breathing for your child is something you wish you’ll never have to do, but should the unthinkable happen, these skills could save your child’s life. You can get certified by taking a course offered by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association. Classes are affordable and held regularly in many locations.
Identifying and Treating Burns
Kids love to explore their environments, and even the best precautionary measures are sometimes insufficient to prevent access to all dangers. Kids can put their hands on a hot stove, touch a light bulb, or play with matches or lighters – all of which can lead to burns. Know how to identify first, second, and third-degree burns and how to treat each.
A third-degree burn, which affects all layers of the skin and is characterized by charred, black or grey skin, is always an emergency. Call 911 or head to your nearest emergency department. First-degree burns, characterized by redness and swelling, can often be treated at home with cool water or compresses, light bandage dressings, and pain relievers.
Treating Bee Stings
Bee stings are very painful, particularly for children, and they can also be life-threatening if your child has a serious allergy. If your child is allergic to bee stings, your medical provider will likely prescribe an epi-pen so that you can prevent anaphylaxis should your child be stung. If you’re not sure if your child has an allergy, watch closely following a bee sting for signs of an allergic reaction (which occurs in about 4 out of every 1,000 children).
Take your child to the emergency room immediately if she has trouble breathing. Absent an allergy, home treatment includes removing the stinger and treating the pain with meat tenderizer, ice cubes, anti-histamines, or over-the-counter pain relievers, among other remedies.
How to Handle Poisoning
Childproofing your home to keep all potentially toxic household products out of reach won’t guarantee that your child won’t find something hazardous to get into. Poisoning can even happen from ingesting materials found outdoors, such as berries or other organic materials. Anytime you suspect poisoning, call the Poison Control Center immediately for directions on how to treat the problem. If you can, find out what your child ingested or came into contact with so that the Poison Control Center can give you the best possible advice.
Your natural response if your child ingested poison is to induce vomiting, but that’s actually not the best course of action. The appropriate treatment varies based on how the poison was introduced (skin contact, in the eyes, ingested, etc.). For instance, if your child has something poisonous in his eyes, you should flush the eyes with room-temperature water. For skin contact, rinsing the skin to remove the poison and removing clothing is the first response. It’s best to always contact the Poison Control Center for the appropriate treatment.
How to Stop Bleeding
Serious injuries may result in substantial bleeding. In these cases, you’ll want to seek the help of emergency medical professionals, but you’ll also want to attempt to stop the bleeding before help arrives or you arrive at the hospital. Removing debris to the extent possible and applying consistent pressure to the wound is the first course of action, but more serious bleeding injuries may require applying pressure points to arteries or other measures.
These essential first aid skills are must-know information for every parent. We’d all love nothing more than to keep our children safe from all potential harm, but knowing what to do in the event of an emergency can save the life of your child.
Julia Merrill is a retired board-certified nurse practitioner. Over the course of her 30-year career, she strived to bridge the communication gap between those seeking the best medical care and those working to provide it. She created BefriendYourDoc.org with the goal of sharing tips and insights into finding the right medical care, dealing with insurance companies, and ways for everyone to better maintain their own health and wellness.