Four Essential First Aid Tips for Parents

As a parent, what you want more than anything else is to keep your children safe and healthy. But, do you actually know the skills you need to make that goal a reality?

Many parents are not as confident as they could be when it comes to treating injuries and responding to emergencies. If you’re in this same boat, keep reading.

Explained below are four of the most important first aid skills that every parent should have mastered.

1. CPR

It’s hard to think of your child not being able to breathe, but being able to restore breath is an essential skill for all parents.

There are a number of situations that can cause a child to stop breathing, from illness and physical trauma to choking and drowning. Basic CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can be used in all of these instances.

Taking a CPR class is the best way to learn, as you’ll be able to practice and get important feedback. But, if you can’t get to a class and still want to learn, these guidelines are a good place to start:

  • Check for alertness by gently shaking, tapping, or asking loudly if they’re okay

  • If they don’t respond, tell someone to call 911 — do not leave them alone

  • Place them on their back and perform chest compressions — place the heel of your hand on their breastbone and place your other hand on their forehead to keep the head tilted back

  • Press down on the chest — it should compress to ?-½ of its depth

  • Give 30 quick compressions, then tilt the head back and look for signs of breathing

  • If they’re not breathing, pinch the nose closed, cover their mouth with your own, and give two rescue breaths

  • Repeat until the child recovers or help arrives

2. Abdominal Thrusts

Formerly known as the Heimlich Maneuver, abdominal thrusts are another important skill for parents to have in their first aid arsenal.

If a child is choking, abdominal thrusts can be performed to dislodge the object and help restore breath. As with CPR, it’s best to learn these in a classroom setting, but these guidelines can help if you want to start learning now:

  • Depending on the child’s size, kneel or stand behind them and wrap your arms around their waist

  • Locate their navel

  • Make a fist with one of your hands and place your thumb against the middle of the abdomen, just above their navel

  • Grab the fist with your other hand and give quick thrusts, pulling your hands in and upward into the abdomen

3. Burn Treatment

If your child sustains a third-degree burn (characterized by widespread thickening of the skin and a leathery, white appearance), they will always need medical attention. First- and second-degree burns (characterized by redness — in the case of first-degree burns — and blistering and some thickness — in the case of second-degree burns) don’t always require a doctor’s care.

First- and second-degree burns can often be treated with a cold water soak followed by the application of an antibiotic cream. Dress the burn with a light bandage and be sure to change it regularly.

Third-degree burns require a different kind of treatment. You should start by calling 911 immediately after your child has been burned. Then, tell them to raise the affected area above their heart to reduce pain and swelling. Make sure no clothing is stuck to the burn as you take them to the emergency room.

4. Treating Sprains

Sprains are quite common among children, and they’re also fairly easy to treat. The RICE method is generally considered to be the best approach for most sprains.

Start by having them lie down and rest. Apply ice to the affected area and hold it in place with a compression bandage. Then, have them elevate the affected area so it’s above their heart.

In addition to icing, remember that it’s important to try out both cold and hot therapy for injuries like sprains. Alternating between ice and heats promotes healthy circulation and prevents pain and swelling.

Final Thoughts

No parent ever wants to have to think about something bad happening to their child. But, the fact of the matter is that accidents happen, and it’s important to be prepared for when they do.

By taking the time to master some of these basic first aid skills, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be able to care for your child and give them the help they need when something goes awry.

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