Kids will inevitably face a number of traumas and emergencies as they grow up. Mostly they can be treated with some basic first aid and a comforting hug.
If in doubt call 000 from a landline or 112 from your mobile. Stay calm, and with all first aid, it is important to work quickly and cleanly. Where practical, wash your hands first with soap and water before treating your child.
What do I do if my child fits? Other than epilepsy, most seizures in young children are caused by fever so it is important to remove any heat source from the child (ie take out of a warm bath/shower, remove blankets etc) and attempt to cool the child (turn on the fan, open the window).
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Remove anything nearby which may harm the child, such as heaters, chairs or other furniture. If it is necessary to move the child then do so, otherwise leave the child and remove other objects, and do not try to restrict their movements.
Roll them onto their side into the recovery position and if possible, tilt their head forward so if they have anything in their mouth or if they vomit, it will drain out. Remove glasses if they are wearing them.
If possible, note how long the seizure lasts. If it is their first fit or the seizure lasts more than five minutes, call an ambulance. It is possible that your child might wet or dirty themselves during a seizure – this is normal and it is important to let them know you understand they had no control over it.
What do I do if my child is choking? If your child is coughing or has noisy breathing it is a partial obstruction and you should encourage them to cough it up.
If they are not breathing or are silent, then it could be a complete obstruction and you should hit them on the back five times and then try five thrusts on the chest to try and dislodge it. If this doesn’t work the first time, repeat once more. If this doesn’t work, begin CPR.
What is the best way to treat a burn? Take the child immediately to a sink, tap or shower and run cold water over the burn for at least twenty minutes. If you do not have access to cold water and in an emergency situation, you can use any cold liquid including soft drinks and beer. Be careful about leaving very small children in the cold shower for twenty minutes, especially during colder months – monitor them for sign of hypothermia.
Remove clothing and jewellery, but if they are stuck to the skin do not pull them off or you may cause extra damage. Do not use ice, creams or gels or pop blisters.
If the child tipped boiling water/tea etc down their front, remember to remove their nappy and shoes as the boiling water can pool and cause extreme damage.
After twenty minutes apply a clean dressing to the wound including plastic wrap or a clean pillow case, and if concerned take to a doctor for further assessment.
How do I Treat a Bee Sting? Remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping the stinger with the venom pouch away. Do not use tweezers as this is likely to push more venom into the wound, use the flat edge of a credit card or popstick. Apply ice or run under cold water to help relieve pain as the cold will help restrict the flow of the venom.
How can I get a splinter out? Often the experience of having a splinter removed is more traumatic for children than the actual splinter itself – and you should always try the gentle options before approaching them with tweezers and needles. Distraction with TV or a game on your mobile phone can be just as effective as pain relief.
If the splinter is relatively small and some of it is still sticking out of the skin, you can try applying some sticky tape and then pulling the tape off in the direction the splinter entered the skin.
If this doesn’t work, then a pair of fine tipped tweezers might be able to get a grip on the end of the splinter.
If the splinter is fully embedded a sterilised needle can be used to carefully scrape away the skin until you have exposed the splinter, which can then be removed with the tweezers.
For a less invasive method, some experts recommend making a thick paste of water and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Put the paste over the splinter and cover with a bandaid. You will need to leave it for up to 24 hours – after this time it may have come to the surface or even popped out. You can buy an ointment called ichthammol which is available in pharmacies. It may smell awful, but it works the same way as the baking soda, and allows the splinter to be expelled naturally.
What is the best way to treat a graze? Grazes tend to hurt as many of the nerves are affected. The area should be carefully washed with warm water to ensure there are no pieces of dirt or sand in the wound, and then dried with a clean, lint-free cloth. Spray with an antiseptic lotion or cream and then cover with a non-stick dressing.
If the graze is to big for a bandaid or two, then head to the chemist for a large dressing as there is nothing worse than pulling sticky bandaid off broken skin. Don’t allow the dressing to get wet, or it will promote infection.
How do I get something out of my child’s eye? If your child has something large, jagged or is embedded in the eye or causing it to bleed, get them to emergency treatment immediately. But for small objects such as sand, the best way to treat it is to flush it out with water. Luckily the natural reaction of crying has the bonus of helping to wash out the eye, so encouraging children to cry will actually help.
For older children, they can place side of their head in a large flat bowl of water and open and close their eye under the water to try and remove it. For younger children, lie them face up on your lap, and pour lukewarm water from a cup into their eye, while you hold it open (cold water will just shock them and make the child instinctively close their eyes).
Alternative you can put children in the shower and have the water flow onto their eyelids as you hold the eye open (this is much less traumatic in summer than in cold winter months)
You can carefully pull out the upper and lower lids to look for the object, and then use a clean, wet cotton ball to try and attract the object.
What do I do if stung by a stinger? The most common jellyfish sting in Perth is the bluebottle, a tiny little jellyfish with long stingers. The highly poisonous box jellyfish and Irukandji are only found in the northern areas of Australia (ie north of Geraldton, norther Queensland etc).
Wash the area with sea water and make sure the stinger and tentacles are removed. If you have access to a hot shower, the preferred treatment is to wash with hot water, but if you don’t, then apply a cold pack to the area for ten minutes or until the pain has subsides. If you do not have a first aid cold pack, wrap a cold drink or iceblock in a teatowel or a t-shirt and apply to the area.
Vinegar is no longer recommended to treat blue bottle stings, and do not urinate on, or pour soft drink on the sting.
What do I do if someone bites my child? Wash the area with warm water, apply an antiseptic cream or spray and then cover the wound with a bandage. The human mouth can carry a range of germs and bacteria, and if the skin has been broken there is the possibility of infection, so you should take your child to a doctor as they may need to prescribe oral antibiotics.
How do I perform CPR? The best way to answer this question is to attend a specialised first aid course directed at treating children.
There is no substitute for professional training, and it could literally save a life. Click here or here to find out about first aid courses offered in Perth.