Learning first aid for babies and children is essential because a parent, maid or nanny at home with an injured or ill child and no knowledge of what to do is a terrible position to be in. Deaths from accidental injuries is rising in children, therefore every second counts in helping them.
Though accidents and illness are unplanned, we have to be prepared for them. It can happen at home, outdoors, in schools, or on the road out and about with their caregivers. A medical emergency can happen to anyone in anyplace.
What is First Aid?
First Aid is help given to a sick or injured person until full medical treatment is available. It deals with issues that arises from the physical environment and illnesses that may arise either slowly or quite quickly. The aim of first aid, is often given in the mnemonic “3 Ps“. These are:
1. Preserve life
2. Prevent further injury
3. Promote recovery
Safety First Always
The first thing to do is keep your child safe. This means taking steps to prevent accidents & illnesses from happening. We can do this more in the case of accidents and to a somewhat less extent in the case of illnesses e.g. prevent exposure to triggers of seizures or asthma attacks but less so for congenital illnesses.
First aid should and does begin with safety. “Accidents hurt – safety doesn’t” is an anonymous saying which helps us understand how important safety is. When you recognise that an accident is always someone’s fault, you will take steps to ensure it’s not yours or that of your child’s caregiver. Remember, your child’s safety is your responsibility. In keeping your child safe, keep the following in mind:
Remove the risk of an injury in the home either a potential hazard or dangerous item, or add a suitable safety product to protect your child:
- Ensure your baby sleeps in his/her crib on a flat mattress with a well tucked in bedsheet with no pillows or soft toys to avoid suffocation. If possible, your baby should not lie with you on the bed as you can suffocate him/her.
- Puree food properly as your baby transitions to solids and ensure bite size cuts as they grow. Food is a common cause of choking at this time.
- Bath water should be of an adequate temperature and make sure hot coffee or cocoa you may be drinking is kept away from their reach to avoid scalding your child as the steam attracts them. Beverages that are at an adequate temperature for you can burn a baby 15mins later because of their thin skin.
- No buckets or bowls of water should be left uncovered around the house; toilets should be closed because of the water in the water closet bowl. Children can drown in 5cm of water and they will do this silently.
- Ensure no small toys, beads or objects are around your toddler that can be put into their mouth or nose.
- Lock away dangerous chemicals like cleaning products which attract children with their bright colours; bleach and kerosene which looks like water to a thirsty child.
- House design features like unnecessary steps or internal glass doors can be a risk to your active, playing child.
- Adequately light everywhere for both your child and caregiver who might be carrying your child. You want them to see where they are going and what may be in their way.
- No badly maintained furniture, floor, floor coverings, nails sticking out etc. This can cause nasty falls or bleeding with attendant consequences.
Always know where your children are every second.
Active adult supervision is essential; the kind that makes you get up to pick a child when he/she is climbing a table and not make you sit comfortably and say “Get down from there! Do you want to fall down? I have warned you o!” I have seen those ones in the hospital with a fracture.
Revise safety checks as the child gets older
What worked for a baby won’t work for a toddler or an older child. Children are naturally curious and would always assess and test their surroundings and your boundaries.
Seek help and teach your child’s caregiver to also do so, the first time you notice something is not right with your child. Helping a child starts with recognising that something is wrong.
What Can You Do?
Even with supervision, children can get cuts, bites, stings and falls; its all part of growing up. Less frequently, medical emergencies such as seizures, fever, asthma attacks and others may require immediate intervention and treatment.
Therefore, one of the best things you can do is prepare yourself for an emergency. To help keep your children, it’s smart to:
- Learn First Aid by attending a class. You get the right knowledge, skills and confidence to help your child if need be and you may save their life. In a class, you’ll learn how to resuscitate a child, stop choking, help with a burn, fever, bleeding, wound or seizure and much more. Everybody in your family should know what do in a medical emergency and it’s most important for your child’s caregiver.
- Get a first aid kit and learn how to use it in a first aid class. It is a necessity, not a luxury and every home should have one.
- Have an emergency action plan for your home – what should be done, who should be called and their phone numbers. Keep these numbers where everyone knows. The list should include the numbers of all your phones and that of your spouse. It should also have that of your doctor, a neighbour and/or a nearby relative.
- As soon as your child is old enough to know his/her own name and address, teach him or her to dial the numbers on your list or call for help.
First aid skills can literally mean the difference between life and death for your child. We have to worry about so many things as parents and caregivers but having this knowledge ensures you feel secure in your ability to intervene in a crisis.
Part of this article is published at Blazers and Baby Blog.
Dr. Oluwatosin Osikoya is the Founder of Levande Healthcare Company. She facilitates First Aid Classes to enable Parents, Carers of Children, Schools and Businesses get the knowledge, skills and tools to handle any medical emergency.