What do you do for a serious cut, a skinned knee, not being able to move your arm after a fall?
When we don’t touch on these topics with our children it can lead to the inappropriate response of panic.
It is inevitable that our children at some point will either experience a need to know some basic first aid because of something that has happened or because of a situation they are in.
When they are not properly informed about how to care for themselves or others they lack the knowledge that is power in these circumstances.
Though this is not necessarily a topic that comes up in daily parenting discussions but appropriate first aid is a discussion that we need to be having with our children.
1. Blood Does Not Mean You Should Panic
This is a biggie here.
Many children may equate the sight of blood with dying or other horrible outcomes.
What we need to be teaching our children is that bleeding is not cause for panic but that they should know what to do.
In the case of a skinned knee or arm (a road rash type of bleeding) we can demonstrate appropriate first aid care that they can do themselves.
Teaching our children to simply rinse off and wash the area to flush out any dirt, pebbles or grass is an effective means of care as well as covering the area with a band aid and if appropriate some antibiotic ointment as well.
In the case of a more serious bleed, perhaps split skin that may require stitches we can teach our children about applying pressure to stop bleeding until a trusted adult can be reached.
I recently saw a scenario in which two brothers were wrestling when one hit his chin on a small table and the skin split open approximately 1.5 inches across.
Being that this was a facial laceration there was a lot of blood, however, the older of the two children knew to simply find a clean paper towel, dampen it and apply pressure to help stop the bleeding.
This type of knowledge is power rather than sending a child into panic mode.
If your child is a pre-teen or older a simple lesson in using a tourniquet to stop a serious bleed on an arm, leg, or other location would be appropriate.
You never know when your child may come upon some type of accident and may need to offer someone who is bleeding some assistance.
Simply knowing what would help keeps our children from feeling helpless.
2. How To Handle Burns
Another accident that at some point a child may experience is that of a burn.
A proper discussion on the three types of burns (1st, 2nd and 3rd degree) is in order and if you as a parent need help with identification simply use a quick Google search to locate appropriate example images you might share with your child.
Once a child can identify what type of burn they are dealing with they will have a better understanding of how it should be treated.
Teach your child also about the importance of knowing how large a burn is as this is a good indicator about whether professional medical treatment is needed.
I like to use common items such as coins, is the burn bigger than a dime? A dollar bill?
If you are away at work and your teen child is home alone this is vital information for you to have as well.
Demonstrate for your child proper care of a burn such as cool water and any type of first aid ointment you may want them to apply while waiting for further assistance or guidance.
Another good topic of discussion is to demonstrate proper burn care after the burn has been treated.
Keeping the area clean, when the area should be covered and when it should not, and how often first aid ointment should be applied.
3. Broken/Fractured Bones
When you are not standing right next to them and something happens.
Have a discussion with your child about broken/fractured bones.
Show them some x-ray pictures (a quick Google search can be a big help here) and assure them that broken bones heal because our bodies are amazing things.
A simple thing to teach them is if they have hurt something, like their arm, and it is in pain they can try to immobilize it while waiting for help.
Once again, knowledge is power and by reassuring your children that even if a bone is broken, it can likely heal fine with time and medical care.
If your child is the first one there and a friend or sibling may have broken a bone just let your child know not to move the injured area until help arrives.
4. When To Use Ice
Ice is a very easy treatment we can teach our children to use.
Teach them when it is appropriate to use ice to relieve pain, discomfort and swelling and how to use it appropriately.
Our children should know not to apply ice directly to the skin for extended periods of time but to put a buffer (a cloth or few layers of paper towels) between the ice and skin to avoid causing the skin to become too cold.
Ice is a great treatment our children can use for stings, or broken, fractured bones while they wait for further assistance from an adult.
It is also something that children typically have easy access to.
5. How/When To Call 911 And Describe An Emergency
Lastly, a frank conversation about when we want our children to contact emergency personnel.
We should all have a conversation with our children about what to do if mom or dad (or even grandma or grandpa) is the primary caregiver and something happens to them.
We should be going over scenarios with our children about what would be a situation in which they would need to contact 911 for someone else.
Even more importantly, we need to go so far as to role play with our children about exactly what type of information they need to report to a 911 operator (name, address, nature of injury or illness) and assure them that they can stay on the phone with the 911 operator while waiting for help.
Also let them know that sometimes when a person calls 911 they are given instructions over the phone as to how to handle a situation until more help can arrive.
Video: 5 Year Old Girl Calls 911
After having conversations with our children surrounding what to do in various situations we can also provide them with their very own first aid kit to have on hand.
Often children feel a sense of pride in not only knowing what to do, but having the means to do so on their own.
Empowering our children is one of the best ways we can equip them in times of need.