Would you know what to do if your child started choking?
We spoke to Sarah Kohn, mother of son Leo and founder of Early Bird First Aid, to get some information on basic skills that could save a child’s life. Sarah feels strongly that first aid skills are as vital to a new mum as information about weaning or immunisations.
“Being a new mum made me realise how grateful I was to also be a first aid instructor”, says Sarah. “My skills gave me confidence and the feeling I could cope in an emergency. New mums have enough on their plates and it meant that I had one less thing to worry about.”
Leo is now 21-months-old and I spend my spare time (what little I have!) teaching other parents essential first aid skills. I set up my business, Early Bird First Aid, about a year ago, as I really believe that basic first aid skills are essential training for anyone looking after children. They should be as much a part of becoming a parent as attending antenatal classes or an NCT course.
Obviously not everyone can find the time or money to attend one of these courses so I have put together a list of five emergency situations that could occur at home and how to prevent and deal with them.
The first thing I will say in any emergency is: don’t panic! Try to remain calm and use your common sense. I hope readers find this useful, but there is no substitute for practicing these skills and techniques for real so if you want to come along to a course or schedule a course for you and your friends please let me know!
Unfortunately young children do fall over and get bumps and bruises as they learn to walk, but being aware of potential risks can help you avoid serious injuries.
Babies can easily roll off the edge of a changing table, bed or sofa. Toddlers quickly learn how to climb and explore and it is very easy for a child to fall off a piece of furniture, down the stairs or even out of a window or balcony.
- Make sure your baby cannot roll off the changing mat.
- Do not put baby bouncers on tables or beds
- Fit locks/restrictors to upstairs windows and keep balcony doors locked
- Keep chairs and other climbing objects away from windows and balconies
- Fit safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
What to do
If your child does bump his head hold a cold compress/ice pack on the bump for 10 minutes (if you can keep him still long enough!).
Take your child back to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital if they:
- are unusually sleepy or you cannot wake them
- have a headache that is getting worse
- are unsteady when they walk
- are repeatedly sick
- have a seizure (fit)
- develop a squint or blurred vision, or they start to see double
- lose consciousness
Go to A&E if your baby has a minor head injury and continues to cry for a long time.
Trust your instincts, if you feel your baby or child is not acting normally after a fall seek medical attention
Babies and young children can choke on small objects such as marbles, grapes or small toys. To help prevent choking
- Keep small objects out of the reach of small children.
- Choose toys that are designed for the age of your baby or child
- Encourage older children to keep their toys away from your baby.
What to do (for babies)
1. Look in the baby’s mouth and carefully remove any visible objects.
Do not feel blindly down throat
2. Position baby face down on forearm supporting head and neck with your hand
3. With the infants head slightly lower than body deliver up to 5 firm back blows between shoulder blades with heel of hand
4. If choking continues perform 5 chest thrusts. This technique can be learnt and practiced at a first aid course www.earlybirdfirstaid.com
Burns and scalds
A child’s skin is much more sensitive than an adult’s and hot water can scald for up to 15 minutes after it has boiled. Hot bath water is the biggest cause of severe and fatal scalding injuries in young children.
- Always place hot drinks out of children’s reach
- Do not drink anything hot with a child on your lap or in your arms
- Use a cordless kettle
- Use the back rings on the cooker whenever possible and turn saucepan handles away from the edge
- If possible, keep young children out of the kitchen
- Before bathing your baby or child, check that the water is not too hot
What to do
- Flood the area in cold running water for at least 10 minutes.
- Do not break blisters or interfere with the burn
- Do not apply any creams, lotions, butter or fat
- Do not use any adhesive dressings
- Cover the area with cling film or a clean pillowcase to help avoid infection.
Suffocation and strangulation
- Keep plastic bags, nappy sacks and balloons (non-inflated or burst) away from young children
- Curtain and blind pull cords should be kept short and out of reach of children.
- Beware of clothing with cords, dummies on necklace cords and bag straps
- Keep cats out of your bedroom – if they jump into cots or beds and fall asleep in the wrong place they could suffocate your child. Attach a net over cots if necessary.
What to do
- Remove cause of suffocation/strangulation if possible
- Start CPR on an unconscious, non-breathing baby or child
Attend an Early Bird First Aid CPR/First Aid course to learn how to resuscitate your child if they have stopped breathing. You will also learn and practice other skills such as how respond to choking and how and when to put a child in to the recovery position.