First Aid Tips Every Parent Should Know

First Aid Tips Every Parent Should Know

Photo Credit: DmitriMaruta / istockphoto.com

When it comes to your child, if and when emergency strikes it’s important to be prepared. The purpose of first aid is to prevent infection and prepare the injured or sick person for more advanced medical care if they end up needing it. While it’s scary when something happens to your child that’s out of your control, being prepared for various scenarios could save their life someday.

Aside from taking a basic first aid course or becoming CPR certified by the American Red Cross, there are many easy first aid tips that can get you through a child’s illness or injury. One of the most basic things you can do is to keep a first aid kid in the car and at home. It’s also a good idea to have a travel sized one for trips across the country or abroad. First aid kits are great for treating headaches, mild cuts and burns, sprains, and insect bites, but more serious injuries may require medical attention.

Cuts

Cuts that have only broken the first layer of skin and don’t have a large gap in between are easily treatable at home. If it’s bleeding, first stop the bleeding by putting pressure on the wound. Then wash the cut with soap and water and pat dry with a towel or other cloth material. Applying an antibiotic ointment to the cleaned cut will help it heal faster and prevent infection. Cover the wound with a bandage or dressing, making sure to change it daily.

Burns

First degree burns or sunburns can also be treated at home. Wet a towel with cold water and place it over the affected area to cool the burn down. Running a heat burn under cool water for a few minutes will also help to reduce the pain and burning sensation. Gels and lotions containing aloe vera will also help burns heal quicker and are especially useful for the treatment of sunburns. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also be taken for any pain the burns may cause.

Sprains and Strains

If your child sprains or strains a muscle, ligament, or tendon, there are home care treatments you can do to make sure it doesn’t get worse. Ensure that the part of the body that was injured is temporarily immobilized either by resting it or putting it into a sling or wrap. Elevate the injured area and use ice packs for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and pain. Get to a doctor as soon as possible to have the strain evaluated and confirm there isn’t a more serious injury.

Fever

Aside from these basic injuries, which can be treated with just a first aid kit, there are other common injuries and sicknesses that may befall your child. Colds and flus can be daunting for small children and babies, especially if a fever is present. A fever is the body’s natural response to fighting infection and is not cause for alarm unless it’s over 102 degrees Fahrenheit or lasts longer than a few days. Fevers can be treated by keeping your child cool, applying a wet washcloth to their forehead and drinking cool liquids. Hydrating is essential during a fever because of the loss of electrolytes from sweating and excess energy expelled by the body as it heals itself. Over-the-counter fever reducers can also be taken for temporary relief, but it’s best to let a fever break naturally as this means your child’s body is fighting the virus or infection.

Dehydration can sometimes result from a sickness like a cold or flu, especially if accompanied by diarrhea or vomiting. However, hot weather and heat related illness can also cause dehydration. To prevent dehydration in your child, replenish lost electrolytes with a rehydration solution such as Pedialyte. If they can hold down solid food, a small salty snack is also a good way to gain back sodium and potassium that may have been lost. If your child is outside in the heat, make sure to limit their sun exposure, especially on excessively hot days. Make them drink water every half hour and take breaks in the shade to cool off.

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds can sometimes occur during childhood, which can be scary for a child. Usually they’re just the result of rough housing, dry air, or irritation from allergies or during a cold and are not cause for alarm. However, nosebleeds still need to be treated just like any other ailment. Stopping the bleeding is the most important first aid step. Just like you would with any other wound, apply pressure to stop the bleeding, by holding the soft, middle part of the nose. Be sure to lean your child’s head forward and allow the blood to drip out and not back into their throat, which can cause other complications like choking or vomiting. Have your child checked by a doctor if nosebleeds happen frequently or are very heavy.

Choking

For children under two especially, the danger of choking is a possibility. Make sure you buy age-appropriate toys that don’t have any small parts that could become detached. Babies and small children love to put things in their mouths, so be sure to watch them closely when playing. If an object or piece of food does become lodged in their throat, the first step is to sit them down calmly and encourage them to cough repeatedly to try and dislodge the object on their own. If that doesn’t work, slapping or patting their backs may also help. If they’re still choking the Heimlich maneuver or another squeezing method should work. In case of a loss of consciousness CPR can be applied, which may force the object out of the airways.

While it’s impossible to anticipate every kind of illness or injury, knowing basic first aid for those common in young children is invaluable. Educating yourself will not only ease your own mind, but also help you protect your child. After all, you will always be the first person to look after them and make them feel better.