The importance of paediatric first aid
While playing and exploring, children end up with small, minor injuries. This is a normal part of growing up, at some point all children will experience it.
The good news is that these minor injuries can be treated with a plaster (preferably a nice patterned or cartoon one) and some good, old fashioned TLC. But there is the chance it could become serious if not treated correctly.
Knowing how to react to accidents could prevent a small incident from escalating into an emergency. If you are trained in paediatric first aid, you will be able to provide basic life support that could potentially save a life or prevent further harm.
Sit back, relax and we will guide you through the process of minor injuries, to prevent making a mountain out of a molehill.
Burns and scalds
Minor burns are very common injuries in children. Curious little hands and sensitive skin are not a good combination. Whether they’re reaching for a hot pan or they didn’t realise the radiator was still on, children can be injured within a flash.
For minor burns, you should remove any loose jewellery or clothing and run the area under cool, running water for a minimum of twenty minutes, or until the pain is relieved. Apply a layer of cling film to the wound to protect against injury and infection, then decide if you need to go to the hospital. You should seek special care if the burn:
- Is located on the face, chest or neck
- Causes blisters bigger than your thumb to rise on the outer layer of skin
- Covers a large area of the body (larger than the palm of your hand)
- Is infected (red, swollen, warm, giving off a strong smell)
- Becomes more painful or irritating over time
Slips, Trips and Falls
According to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, falls are the most common cause of accidental injury to children. Children may hurt themselves on a range of things:
- Slippery bathtubs
- Playground toys (slides, monkey bars)
The reality is that there are hundreds of situations where children could fall. Even when it’s not from a height, a small tumble could lead to a few cuts or bruises. If the fall was minor, you should follow these steps:
- Stay calm – if you panic, the child will panic as well
- Check for bleeding – if there is blood, use a clean cloth to apply pressure firmly over the bleeding area for five to ten minutes
- Check for swelling and apply an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes if you can get hold of one
While you are performing these checks, you should also be on the lookout for signs of painful or difficult breathing. If you spot this, then take the child to the hospital immediately.
Cuts and wounds
Kids have a habit of wanting to play with sharp objects, which could lead to bleeding. Most situations can be patched up pretty quickly, but what should you do when it’s more than just a scratch?
If a cut has occurred as a result of another injury, such as a fall or being hit by something, you should seek medical assistance. Dealing with multiple injuries at once will likely require care from a specialist.
As long as the cut or wound is not deeper than 1 cm, you can treat it by:
- Rinsing the wound thoroughly with water to clear away any dirt
- Wiping away excess blood or fluid with a clean tissue or towel
- Covering the wound with a sterile dressing
You should check the wound daily, and if the bandage gets wet, take it off and put on a new one. When a scab begins to form, you don’t need to use a bandage anymore. Just remember to tell the child to not pick the scab, or you’ll be back at square one!
Foreign Objects in the body
Whether it’s a splinter stuck in their finger or they’ve swallowed a piece of plastic, most kids go through a foreign object experience at least once in their childhood. Children are curious and explore the world with their mouths and touch, so it will likely happen.
The issue with foreign objects is figuring out how serious it is. The potential for it to pass through the childs’ system without harm is high, however, some situations may turn bad.
Choking and bowel obstructions are the most serious concerns, so you should be on the lookout for these injuries. Children also aren’t great at describing the pain they’re experiencing.
Knowing how to calmly speak with anxious or distressed children to get them to explain what they’re feeling is a key part of paediatric first aid. So if a child has swallowed something and feels bloated or nauseous, it’s up to you to follow up with questions until you get a better idea of their discomfort. The most important point is to try to find out what they may have swallowed. It could be a small toy part, a piece of plastic, or more seriously, a battery. If you even suspect that it was a battery, then call 999 immediately.
You should also seek medical assistance if a child is experiencing any of the following after ingesting a foreign body:
- Cramping, swelling, severe abdominal pain
- Inability to pass gas
Most children can’t go a single day without bumping into something (or someone). Whether they were playing sports at school or playfighting with siblings, children being struck by or against an object is a fairly common occurrence.
You should be able to judge from the incident how severe the impact was. Minor cases, such as being hit by a football or bumping into furniture can be resolved by rubbing the sore area and issuing a time-out. However, you should always carefully check the area to check for other signs of injury.
If a child has been pinned under a piece of furniture or was struck by a heavy falling object, then there is more cause for concern. These types of injuries can have lasting effects, such as difficulty breathing, dizziness, broken bones or nausea.
In this situation, you should ask the child to remain still in a comfortable position while you call for help, being sure that they are also safe while you do so. It could be that the child has suffered an internal injury, which means they shouldn’t get up and carry on running around, as this could make it worse.
Feeling more confident about paediatric first aid?
Hopefully, you now know a bit more about the basics of paediatric first aid. These injuries are very common, so if you live or work with children, brushing up on this knowledge will go a long way.
Unfortunately, a theoretical understanding may not be enough to fully prepare you should a serious accident occur. We provide paediatric first aid training in Essex to help adults understand how to treat and care for injured children.
We are based in Coggeshall, and we’re happy to welcome you to our training room to deliver your session. To find out more about first aid and our other training courses, feel free to give us a call today.