Emergency First Aid All Parents Should Know
Posted: May 29, 2019
No matter how careful you are as a parent, you can’t prevent every emergency or every injury. First aid situations can happen in the blink of an eye, and most need fast action in response. Here are a few first aid scenarios and basic instructions for what to do when they occur:
If your child knocks out a tooth, the main thing to consider is whether it's a permanent tooth or a baby one. Because a baby tooth has shorter roots than a permanent one, they are much easier to knock out. If the child's baby tooth was already loose and ready to fall out, no treatment will be necessary. Press a piece of clean gauze into the tooth's empty socket to stop the bleeding. Ask the child to gently bite down on the gauze. If the child is very young, with years to go before a permanent tooth will arrive, it might be worth it to re-implant the baby tooth because without its protection, there may be permanent damage to the tooth below it. If your child knocks out a permanent tooth, the situation is much more serious. The first minutes after the injury occurs are critical to save the tooth. You have one to two hours at most to get the child and their tooth to a dentist in time to re-implant it, otherwise the tooth will die. Handle the tooth carefully; do not touch the root. Keep the tooth moist by dropping it into a plastic container of cold, whole milk, saliva, water, or into a specialized solution such as Save-A-Tooth. Get the child and the tooth to a dentist as soon as possible.
If your child smashes a finger in a door, they will no doubt howl in pain. This is to be expected and doesn't necessarily mean there is a serious injury. Usually, there is not, but you should still examine the finger. If there is a deep cut, profuse bleeding, a broken bone, or any segments pinched off, then it will be necessary to visit the ER or an Urgent care center quickly. Apply pressure to cuts, and wrap with bandages to promote clotting; if segments have been pinched off, find the missing segments and put them on ice, then apply bandages and pressure to the hand; in the case of a broken finger, immobilize it and apply ice. In all cases, give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain and get them to a doctor. Once you’re back home from the doctor’s office, you may want to consider buying devices such as child safety door stops that will help prevent these injuries from happening.
Sprains occur when a ligament has been twisted, stretched, or torn; the most common sprains in children are on their wrists and ankles. If your child has sprained a joint, you need to determine whether the sprain is stable or not. A stable sprain will be only mildly painful with no tenderness or soreness in the bone; a stable sprain can be treated at home. However, if the sprain is unstable, it will be very painful and have lots of tenderness in the bone. For this, you will need to take your child to the doctor as soon as possible. Give your child ibuprofen to manage swelling. Rest the ankle for the first 24 hours, keeping it elevated. Treat the sprained area with ice at least every 4 hours for 30 minutes at a time. Get support bandages or an aircast to support and stabilize the area. Keep weight off the injured area as much as possible. If after the first 48 hours your child’s sprain is still very painful, it’s likely they have an unstable sprain, and you should consult with your doctor about further treatment.
To prevent choking at mealtimes, make sure to teach your kids proper table manners. Teach them to eat smaller bites and chew thoroughly. Don't allow horseplay at the table. For young children, cut up their food into small pieces. If your child takes a bite of food and starts coughing, let them cough; coughing is the most effective way to clear the airway. If your child cannot speak and is turning bright red or blue, then something is stuck in their airway. Call 911. If your infant aged one or less is choking, turn them over on your lap. Give five sharp blows between the shoulder blades. For kids one to twelve years old, bend the child over and apply the five sharp blows between the shoulder blades. If that doesn't work, stand the child up and kneel behind him or her. Place your fist over their navel area and your other hand over your fist. Apply five sharp upward thrusts on their abdomen to dislodge the object. Repeat back blows and abdominal thrusts until the item in the throat is dislodged. If the child cries out, stop. A crying child is a breathing child, and he or she is out of immediate danger. If the back blows and abdominal thrusts are not effective, and your child becomes unresponsive, you will need to perform CPR (see below for directions).
If your child isn't breathing, this is an emergency. Call 911. Make sure the child is laying down on their back on a firm, flat surface. Tilt their head back, and check for an obstruction. Do not put your fingers into your child’s mouth unless you can see an obstruction, and can remove it; otherwise, you might accidentally push an obstruction deeper. If their throat is clear of obstructions, give five rescue breaths. Do this by pinching their nose shut, and breathing into their open mouth. Remember, your child’s lungs are much smaller than yours, so you must moderate how much air you blow depending on their age and size. Next, perform 30 chest compressions. Place the heel of your hand on your child’s chest, and place the other one one top of it (but if your child is very young, use only one hand). Align your hands and arms and shoulders so that the force of your compression comes straight down on their chest. Keep your arms straight; don’t bend your elbows. Quickly push down about two inches on your child’s chest, and release. Do this 30 times, giving two compressions every second. Count your compressions out loud. If your child doesn't respond, give two to three more rescue breaths, followed by 30 chest compressions. Continue until help arrives.
As a parent, when emergencies happen, your child is dependent on you to know what to do. Be ready. There is never any way to tell when you will need to apply emergency first aid. But you can prepare yourself by learning what to do.