Children can be difficult to care for. Naturally curious and uninterested in rules, they’re liable to get into trouble and injure themselves on occasion. All parents should be educated on providing first aid for children. Minor injuries can be treated at home easily without concern, but serious injuries may require immediate treatment, which means caregivers should be prepared to give emergency treatment at a moment’s notice.
Parents should prepare for more than just scrapes and bruises - they should anticipate serious falls, stove and iron burns, accidental ingestion and worse when it comes to children. Here are five first aid techniques every parent should know to keep their children safe.
1. Back Blows and Chest Thrusts
Children are notorious for putting improper things in their mouth. Choking is the one of the most common causes of death among toddlers and infants, making it one of the most critical emergencies to prepare yourself for.
If your child falls suspiciously silent or starts making gurgling noises and you suspect he may have swallowed something, respond immediately. Lay your child stomach-down along your forearm so their head is facing the ground and their bottom is facing you. Strike him firmly in between the shoulder blades at least three to five times. This technique, called a back blow, can help dislodge objects stuck in a child’s throat using both force and gravity.
If back blows aren’t effective, flip them over and perform chest thrusts by pressing down on their chest with two fingers. Continue these techniques until your child coughs up the object, begins breathing regularly or an ambulance arrives.
2. Treating a burn
Burns can cause severe damage, particularly if the injury becomes infected, and there are countless opportunities in a regular household for a child to accidentally burn herself. If you leave the stovetop or oven on unsupervised, step away from the iron while handling laundry or accidentally leave a candle or fireplace within your child’s reach, there’s a chance she may try to touch any of those elements and severely injure herself.
If your child is injured, run the burned area under cold water immediately for several minutes, until the skin no longer feels warm. Use something clean that won’t come off on the wound, like a plastic bag, to cover the injury and prevent pain from contact with the air. Do not apply ointments or lotion to the skin after a burn injury. If it’s severe, call an ambulance. Otherwise, leave it covered until it stops hurting and wash it gently with cold water for a few days.
3. Child CPR
If you ever find that your child has stopped breathing and fainted, including if they were choking, it’s important to perform CPR immediately and with accuracy. Take a CPR course, one that specializes in child CPR, in order to be adequately trained for this scenario. Contact your local fire department or police department to learn about local CPR class availability.
CPR techniques for infants include beginning with chest compressions at least 1.5 inches deep just below the nipple line for at least 30 compressions (for an older child, press down at least two inches). Open the airway by tilting the infant’s head back, then perform a rescue breath by covering the infant’s mouth and nose with your mouth and performing two one-second breaths. Repeat until the child begins to breath, at a rate of 30 compressions to two breaths.
4. Monitoring head trauma
If your child hits his head against something, it’s important to monitor his behavior for several hours afterwards. A head injury that initially appears inconsequential can actually lead to a severe concussion without apparent warning without careful monitoring. Parents should monitor a child for changes in behavior after a bump or a fall, including developing nausea or sudden drowsiness, a persistent headache, mood changes or a sense of unwellness.
Symptoms of a concussion can develop hours after an injury, which means they are not always immediately apparent. The best treatment for a concussion is rest, but if symptoms of a concussion are coming on, you should take your child to a doctor for confirmation and to ensure no serious internal damage occurred.
5. Treating a fever
If your child has developed a fever, the most important thing to do is cool her down. Children who overheat can pass out, start shivering or even have periodic seizures if they are not treated quickly or their temperature remains high for a long period of time. Cool them down by giving them a lukewarm to cool bath, opening windows, stripping them down to underwear and turning fans on. Be sure to provide plenty of fluids to your child and take her to a doctor if her symptoms persist or get worse.
Although it’s important to provide first aid for your children, it’s also important to remember that not everything can be treated at home. If your child’s injuries appear out of your control or are worsening, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.