First aid for parents: 8 common incidents


Part of being a parent is helping your children when they get hurt.  As much as what we’d rather they didn’t get hurt, children play and explore sometimes resulting in a scrape, injury, or needing to be rushed to the accidents & emergencies ward of the nearest hospital. We don’t necessarily want to talk about these possibilities because they are scary for us and them. Sometimes these injuries happen when we least expect it. Being prepared with basic first aid know how can go a long way in keeping both you and your children calm while help is on its way.

Here is a list of 8 incidents that commonly happen to children: keep on reading to find out what to do in any of these situations.

1. Allergies

Not all children have allergies. You don’t know if your child has an allergy until it happens. It is best to be prepared. Allergies can be caused by insect stings or bites, food, pollen, or medication.  Always keep your child away from the items that trigger allergic reaction.

The signs of allergic reactions are:

  • Swelling
  • Itchy or red eyes
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Runny nose
  • Red skin
  • Dizziness (severe allergy)
  • Difficulty breathing, talking, or swallowing (severe allergy)
  • Swollen mouth, tongue, or neck glands (severe allergy)

Assess your child’s reaction.  If severe, contact medical help immediately. If mild to moderate, treat your child with an appropriate antihistamine. Monitor your child closely for signs of improvement or signs that the allergy is getting worse.

2. Burns

Most burns result from hot liquid. As a parent, you discourage children from touching hot items.  For those who are learning to handle hot items, parental supervision is necessary. This is the challenge of parenting. Helping your children learn how to cook, make a hot beverage, run a bath, etc…, is an important part of their development. However, burns may happen.  Here is what to do if your child gets burnt:

Immediately place the burned area under cold running water for a minimum of ten minutes or until the pain has reduced. If the burn area has any blisters, wrap gauze or a loose bandage around it. A deep burn will result in the skin changing color to either a brown or white.  If the blisters pop, apply an antibiotic cream on the damaged area and cover with a bandage until it has healed. If the burn does not have blisters, you can apply aloe vera gel to help soothe and heal the skin.

Contact medical help or go to the ER if the burn is over ten percent of your child’s body, the burn is on the face, hands, or genitals, or if the burn is larger than ¼ inch.

3. Asthma attacks

An asthma attack happens when the airways are irritated or swollen. Asthma attacks can be life threatening thus it is imperative that they are dealt with immediately.

The signs of an asthma attack are:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Tight chest
  • Short breaths or gasping to breathe
  • Difficulty breathing while sitting (severe attack)
  • Difficulty talking even with pausing to breathe (severe attack)
  • Blue around the lips (severe attack)

Help your child to a chair. With a reassuring hand and tone, encourage your child to take their asthma medication. Ensure that your child is calm since panicking may worsen the asthma attack. Always keep your child’s medication on hand and work with your doctor in following your child’s asthma treatment plan.

4. Croup

Croup is more common than people realize affecting babies from 4 months to about 2 years.  Usually children outgrow croup by the age of 2 to 3.  However, croup can be a frightening experience perhaps more so for the parent than the child.  Croup is caused by the inflammation of the wind pipe and voice box. Usually croup can be treated safely at home with careful monitoring.

The signs of croup are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Distinctive barking cough
  • Raspy voice
  • Sometimes fever (at which case monitor very closely or go to the emergencies)

Sit your child on your lap supporting their back. Throughout it stay calm as this will help your child feel reassured and less frightened. Grab the nebulizer with saline solution or prescribed nebulizer medication (alternatively create a steam room in your bathroom by running a hot shower). The steam from either the shower or nebulizer will help relax the windpipe and voice box which will help your child breathe and sooth their cough.

Croup usually is worse at night. Do phone your GP or visit your GP for the necessary medication to treat your child at home.

5. Fever

Children and babies can get fever for a variety of reasons. Usually children have a fever when their bodies are fighting off an infection. This applies to babies as well; although, babies can get mild fever when they are teething too.

A fever is a temperature above 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Monitor your child’s fever closely. I recommend the electronic in-ear thermometers: their readings are accurate and reliable. If your child’s temperature is at 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), give your child some ibuprofen and encourage rest. If your child’s temperature is between 39 and 40 degrees Celsius (102.2 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), get medical help immediately. Give your children plenty of fluids; if you are breastfeeding your baby, increase your feeds. Increased fluid intake will help your child stay hydrated.

6. Cuts and Scrapes

Cuts and scrapes are part of the adventures of childhood. They are the battle scars of imaginary duels and escapades; the signs of a healthy, growing child. Sometimes these cuts and scrapes need a bit more attention than a kiss or plaster.

If your child’s cut or scrape is bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or cotton wool for a minimum of three minutes. Rinse the injury under lukewarm water and lightly dab at the area. If the skin is broken, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment and cover with a bandage or gauze. If the bleeding is not stopping, get medical help immediately.

7. Insect bites and stings

If your child gets stung by an insect, usually a bee, remove the stinger with either your nail or plastic card. This will help ensure that the stinger is removed whole without releasing more venom into your child. If your child is having a severe allergic reaction, seek medical help. You may want to give your child some ibuprofen or paracetamol to help with the pain associated with a sting.

If your child has an insect bite which is causing itchiness, use a cold compress to stop the itch and apply some calamine lotion.

8. Poison

It can happen: your child gets into your household detergents or medication thinking they are sweets or juice. The next thing you know, your child is fighting off poison.

As with anything, prevention is better than cure. Keep your household detergents and medication out of reach of children. Make sure that your detergents are stored in bottles or containers that do not resemble juice or water bottles. Where possible, try to find out what your child has consumed and how much. This will help you ascertain the danger.

Know the number of your poison center so that you can contact them for information on symptoms and identify the type of poison your child has contracted as well as how to act. Seek medical help immediately.

The best first aid

With the help of first aid, patience, and by remaining clam, your children are able to continue exploring, playing, and growing. The best first aid your children can get is your reassurance, love, and touch. You are the one who helps your child know that they are safe. With you watching over them, they know that they can carry on being a child because they know that they can count on you to be there when they need you. You are their hero, their support, their safety.

Another first aid option is to use essential oils.