In Case Of Emergency: First Aid Tips For (New) Moms and Dads
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
If you refer to your mate as “Boo”, you can almost guarantee referring to your child as “Boo-Boo”, and more often than not, quite literally. Children, are, no surprise, “accident prone” as they grow, learn, and explore. In fact, studies show that every year, nearly a quarter of all children experience injuries severe enough to warrant medical attention and even bed rest. A scarier fact is that accidents rate as the leading cause of fatalities for children between 1 and 21 years of age.
While accidents may not be totally preventable, you’ll at least want to be prepared. Here are some helpful hints to heal the hurts and the tears.
Cuts and Scrapes: Little ones can get into lots of trouble, especially as they begin to venture off on their own. Luckily, most are fairly harmless and can be easily treated at home.
Thoroughly wash your own hands, to eradicate dirt and germs. Then wash out the cut or scrape with lukewarm water and soap. Delicately pat the area with sterile gauze until dry. If bleeding persists, apply firm pressure for up to five minutes.
Once the bleeding has stopped apply an antibacterial ointment to prevent it from getting infected, then cover the wound with a bandage (changing it periodically and check for signs of infection such as redness or pus), until it heals. According to health care professionals, keeping the wound covered, instead of exposed, keeps it moist, and allows for it to heal more quickly and with less potential for scarring.
You may want to call or pay a visit to the doctor if the cut is jagged, deep, longer than an inch or full of dirt, debris, or gravel; as well as if it was caused by a puncture wound, rusty object, or animal or human bite. You should also contact your child’s physician if bleeding refuses to stop, even after 5 minutes of direct pressure.
Experts suggest also applying sunscreen to the recovering wound. They note that new skin that forms over a cut tends to be more sensitive to light and should be protected.
Burns and Blisters: Spills, and all sorts of thrills that could leave you wanting to scold your child for scalding himself/herself….and although your inquisitive infant may occasionally get hurt, it never hurts to be prepared. Let’s start off with some of the burn basics.
According to pediatric professionals, only first-degree burns should be treated at home. These are classified as burns that affect the outer layer of skin, causing redness, but not blistering.
Tend to first-degree burns by running cool water over the area for a few minutes to lower the skin temperature. However, you’ll want to make sure the water is not too cold, which may be uncomfortable and even decrease the flow of blood to the skin. Apply an aloe Vera ointment to relieve pain and cover the area with a damp gauze pad. Avoid using home remedies such as using butter, ice, etc, which can actually increase the size of the burn.
You should contact your doctor if the burn appear more severe burns, such as those accompanied by blisters, if the burn covers a large area but is not blistered, it the burn is on the fact, feet, or genitals.
Immediately dial 911 if your child has experienced a serious burn such as an electrical burn, a significant blistering burn over a large area, or is not breathing and needs immediate medical attention.
Experts advise against placing hot food or drinks on or near the edge of a table, counter or on a tablecloth (which children tend to pull on). Keep your water heater set to or below 120 degrees F. to protect against scalding. Avoid leaving hot irons or hair “accessories” unattended or within your child’s reach.
Bug Bites: Most children (especially those residing in rural and suburban areas) are inclined to play outdoors, which means they’re exposed to the elements and nature, and that includes the potential for stings and bites. While most insect interactions are merely painful but harmless, experts remind parents that some can cause infection or an allergic reaction, and that it’s those you’ll need to be prepared for.
Itching and scratching (a mosquito bite) is a normal and expected reaction. Alleviate the discomfort by applying a cool compress, or rubbing an ice cube on the bite for a few seconds. You can also ease the discomfort and itching with calamine lotion or a paste made of three teaspoons baking soda and one teaspoon water. For more severe itching that just won’t let up, consult your pediatrician about using a topical anesthetic. It’s also a good idea to trim your child’s nails to prevent his/her scratching from breaking the skin and cause infection.
Bee stings are a bit more “complex” to get under control. Bees tend to leave behind a stringer attached to a venom sack and pulling it out with your fingers can result in the release of more poison. Instead, use a clean fingernail, credit card, of the edge of a very dull knife to scrape the stinger out. Thoroughly with soap and water and apply a wet towel, washcloth, or cold pack for a few minutes, then apply a relief ointment such as calamine lotion or paste of baking soda and water.
In order to relieve the pain and itching accompanying a sting, you may want to ask your doctor about using an over-the-counter antihistamine. However, experts emphasize using caution with regards to potential overdose reminding parents to never use an oral antihistamine at the same time as using a topical one.
The bite of an infected tick can lead to Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that initially appears as a red bull’s eye rash and can cause fatigue, aching joints and a variety of other symptoms if untreated. If you live in a rural or forested area or enjoy camping with the family, experts recommend that your inspect everyone thoroughly for ticks when you head indoors and make sure to wash clothes thoroughly as well.
To remove a tick experts suggest using tweezers and grabbing as close to the skin as possible. Pull back gently and carefully making sure not to squeeze, which could result in some of the tick being lost in the skin. If your area is prone to tick diseases, save the tick in a small jar of rubbing alcohol and call your physician for advice.
You’ll also want to call your doctor if the bite gets large and becomes painful or seems to be infected.
Call 911 if your child has an allergic reaction. In very rare cases, anaphylaxis may occur/ This can be potentially life-threatening with symptoms that affect several parts of the body such as swelling of the throat and hives.
Experts further advise that parents exert extra caution when dealing with mosquito bites. While only a very small percentage of those bitten actually contract West Nile Virus, it’s best for parents to be cautious, especially during the summer months.
Bumps And Bruises: Quite typical among curious and exploratory toddlers. But not all bumps and bruises are harmless. The trick is knowing how to tell the difference.
Children who bump their heads (and other parts of their body) but remain active and alert are generally nothing to worry about. Although, experts “do,” emphasize noting any change in the bump or bruise (for the worse). If the bump or bruise is fairly regular, simply apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
Be conscious of changes that may implicate the need to contact a physician. Among these, vomiting, brief loss of consciousness, apathy in normal activity, fatigue, irritability, unusual quietness, headaches, lethargy, etc., all which may indicate a possible concussion. If there is a welt or divot in your child skull, he/she may have suffered a fracture. You also need to take head and consult your doctor if your child falls from a height of three feet or higher, or while in motion (such as being pushed on a swing, or sliding down a slide).
Your child will most likely also require immediate emergency attention (remember to call 911) if he/she loses consciousness or experiences seizures.
Splinters: Children are usually touching things they shouldn’t and if they’re playing outdoors that could also mean wooden objects that could result in splinter. Splinters are quite common among children and not much to worry about. Still, parents need to be prepared to deal with the pain and discomfort.
First, rinse the area around the splinter thoroughly with soapy water. Thoroughly cleanse and disinfect a pair of fine-tipped tweezers with rubbing alcohol, and proceed to gently pull the splinter out. Follow with an application of antibacterial lotion and cover with a bandage to prevent the area from getting dirty and infected. If you have difficulty removing the splinter, give it a few hours to work its way to the surface and try again. Never dig into the skin; it may cause further irritation and infection.
Experts suggest contacting your physician if, even after a few hours, the splinter is difficult to remove.
For soft splinters such as those caused by certain “thorny” plants, consider using duct or adhesive tape to pull them out.
Choking: Babies and toddlers not only touch things that may hurt them, but are “notorious” for putting just about any object they can in their mouth. From small toys to hard and gummy round foods, your baby may be at risk of choking.
According to experts, if your child accidentally swallows something but has a strong scream or cry, he/she is probably experiencing minimal blockage, and should be encouraged to cough in an effort to eject the object. If your child can’t breathe, cough, cry, make any sound, is turning blue, or loses consciousness, you will need to apply first aid. For children one year old or younger, you will want to take the following steps immediately.
· Lay the child face down along your forearm with his/her head positioned lower than his/her chest. Support the head with your hand around the jaw and under the chest, and using your thigh for support. Administer up to five quick back blows between the infant’s shoulder blades, using the heel of your free hand.
If the child continues to choke, turn him/her face up, using your thigh or lap for support. Rest his/her head lower than his/her chest, and place two finger on the middle of your child’s breastbone (sternum), slightly below the nipples and give five quick downward thrusts. If he/she is still choking, repeat back blows and chest thrusts, and have someone call 911.
Should your child lose consciousness, administer infant CPR (call 911 for instructions). If you can see the object blocking your infants breathing, try to manually dislodge it.
Professionals point out that anyone child-sitting for your child should be familiar with the above procedures and should take a basic course in first aid and CPR. Classes are usually offered via the local chapter of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.
Toxins And Poisons: Besides objects that can cause choking, children may also accidentally put something toxic or poisonous in their mouth. Besides keeping such things out of reach, here are a few things you can do in case of emergency.
If you suspect your child has ingested a harmful and life-threatening substance, immediately contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Professionals there will as for your child’s age, weight and if he/she has vomited. Once you give them the necessary information they will instruct you on what to do and whether or not you need to go to the emergency room. Remember, not to induce vomiting (for your child) unless instructed to.
Experts note that if you still have some syrup of ipecac, dispose of it. It has been proven ineffective in poisoning cases and is no longer recommended or approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
First Rate First Aid Kits: Because emergencies don’t only occur at home (and in other “convenient” locations) experts suggest putting together two well stocked kits. Keep one in your car, and another in your home. Make sure each contains emergency phone numbers, and essential medications, as well as the following items.
· Antibacterial lotion or ointment
· Hydrocortisone Cream (1 percent)
· Bandages, including waterproof varieties
· Antiseptic and Antibacterial wipes.
· Gauze pads and roller gauze
· Hand disinfectant and sanitizer
· Ice or cold pack (for babies and children as well as one for adults)
· Aspirin (baby and adult), acetaminophen, and ibuprofen (maybe also some motion sickness pills)
· Itch and burn relief cream
· Anti-bug spray
· Activated charcoal
· Aloe Vera gel
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