Injuries and emergencies are an inevitable part of life. However, having basic first aid knowledge can help people respond effectively in a variety of situations. When thinking about first aid training, don’t exclude children: they can learn, too! Your children might be old enough to leave the house alone or maybe they are still little and generally supervised. Either way, it is always useful to know how to respond to minor injuries or even a medical emergency.
Not sure how to begin teaching your children about first aid? Here are seven tips and skills that you may consider passing on to your little ones. With even the most basic training, they will be less likely to panic during an emergency or even able to administer the steps to save a life.
1. Call 911
Teaching your children to call 911 is a vital skill. As soon as they can recognize numbers, you can teach them to dial 911. However, kids must also be mature enough to understand that calling 911 is not for fun! Instead, they must realize that the number should only be dialed in emergency situations. Therefore, they must also be old enough to understand what constitutes an emergency. Examples include a fire, an unconscious individual, choking, or criminal activity. Children should also learn their street address to communicate their location with the dispatcher, and they should understand that they can trust the dispatcher to help.
2. Utilize the First Aid Kit
When an injury occurs, it is imperative to have the right tools and materials on hand. Keep a basic first aid kit with you on all your family’s adventures: pack one in the car or in your backpack. Be sure your children know the location of the kit and how to use each of its components. Have children assist in assembling the kit (or purchase a small pre-packaged kit). Additionally, allow them to try-out a few items for practice. Being familiar with the first aid kit will make your children feel cool and confident if an injury occurs.
3. Stop Bleeding
As children grow older, their play will become a bit rougher. Activities like jumping and climbing may result in cuts, scrapes or a nosebleed from time to time. Teach your children not to panic at the sight of blood and instead, show them the steps to stop bleeding quickly:
- Assess the situation. Call for help if there is major bleeding.
- Apply pressure. Pressure will help stop the bleeding and allow a clot to form. Pinch the nostrils together to stop a nosebleed.
- Clean the area. Use soap and water if available or a medicated wipe.
- Cover the wound. Apply antibiotic ointment then cover the laceration with a bandage or piece of gauze.
4. Treat a Burn
Despite you or your child’s best instincts, applying ice (or an ice-cold liquid) to a burn is not the best choice. Very cold water can constrict the blood flow to a burn site and cause further damage to the surrounding tissues. Instead, teach your children to apply a cool, wet towel to the affected area. The coolness will help stop the burning and keep the area clean. Apply an antibiotic ointment and a loose bandage to the area. Of course, if the wound is severe or covers a larger part of the body, seek medical attention right away.
5. Learn R.I.C.E.
If your child is burdened by a sprain, strain or other soft tissue injury, using the “RICE” method will be beneficial. Even if you’re not present, your child can remember the acronym:
Take time to teach your children how to administer each step. Using the items on hand or in a first aid kit, your child will be able to relieve pain and swelling while ultimately healing more quickly.
6. Handle Bites and Stings
Exploring the outdoors comes with the risk of being bait to various insects. While uncomfortable, minor reactions will only present red bumps, itchiness and mild swelling. The stinger may need to be carefully removed from the bite before washing and applying a topical antihistamine. Teach your children to distinguish minor bites from a severe allergic reaction characterized by trouble breathing, extreme swelling, and dizziness or fainting. This type of situation would require a call to 911. Additionally, if you or your child uses an EpiPen, be sure they know the location and how to use it in an emergency.
7. Administer CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more commonly called CPR, is a lifesaving technique that can be essential to know. However, there is some controversy around the question, “can children do CPR?” Research shows that while school aged children (7-14) can learn the life saving techniques, their success ultimately depends on the child’s physical capability. However, it doesn’t hurt to teach your children the basics! CPR practice should only be done on mannequins, so consider signing your family up for a local class.
Teach Your Children First Aid to Help Those in Need
One of the best ways to teach your children about first aid is to learn the material yourself! Brush up on the basics by taking a class in person or find an online training program. When injuries happen, narrate the steps of treatment to children. Additionally, when thinking of teaching your children about first aid, focus on injuries or emergencies your family is most likely to encounter. Maybe you hike or play sports where scrapes or sprains are bound to happen. Or perhaps one of your loved ones has a medical issue (diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, allergies) that could require emergency care. Familiarize your crew with the first aid responses that you think are most relative while remembering that emergencies can occur at any time or place. Even with the most basic knowledge, kids of any age can offer help to someone in need.