Tumbles and scrapes go hand in hand with having kids, from the moment they can walk children end up with minor bumps and bruises. If you are lucky, that’s all you have to deal with, but sometimes it can be a bit more serious, and it’s pretty important to know how to react.
Our bub Charlie had a big tumble on Saturday night, and we ended up spending several hours in hospital. I have written in the past about how to deal with sick kids, and you can read that here, but having a sick child, and one with a more time pressing injury are fairly different, here’s a few ideas to keep in mind in the event you have a similar emergency to ours on Saturday night.
1. Put aside your panic
It can be hard to think when you have a screaming child near you, especially if it’s your own, but I guarantee you will be of little help if you let yourself get hysterical. Take a deep breath, and calm down.
2. Assess the danger
Whether you saw what happened, your child has run screaming to you, or you’ve just found them hurt, the first thing to do is check for danger to yourself, others or the hurt child. It will do nobody any good if you end up hurt too and unable to assist. Have a look around, and either neutralize (doesn’t that sound like the terminator) or remove the risk so you can get on with treating the injury.
3. Help them sit or lie down
If your child is hurt (it’s happened to my kids 3 times in the last month), getting them to stop running around so you can have a look is a great idea. If they are loosing a lot of blood, in lots of pain, or screaming bloody murder you really don’t want them to pass out standing up so get them as close the the ground as you can.
4. If there’s bleeding apply pressure and elevate
Use something clean (tea towel, paper towel, whatever) to apply gentle pressure if your child has a cut and try and elevate it above their heart. This will also hopefully give you a chance to assess whether they need to go to hospital. If there is a lot of blood, decide if you should call an ambulance. Keep in mind that head wounds do bleed a fair bit, even a little cut can look really gory- especially if your child has been running around or is hot.
5. Give first aid
This is where a good grab and go first aid kit comes in handy. If you think the injury is minor, or you need to patch them up to take them to the hospital/ doctors, give some basic first aid. Antiseptic, plasters, steri-strips, non stick dressings, bandages etc are all good things to have on hand. Give the injury some support or covering and if it’s minor some antiseptic, and maybe a children’s pain killer. Putting an ice pack on is generally a great idea, especially to a bump or bruise. Depending on what’s happened, sometimes a big nonstick dressing, taped on is a good idea- it will be easy to remove to get it looked at but will still protect the wound (unlike the plaster on Charlies head on Saturday night, which ended up being cut off and out of his hair!!).
6. Get a professional opinion
If you aren’t sure if something is a big deal or not, it it a good idea to get it checked out, either by a nurse or a doctor. For those in Australia, there is a doctor home visiting service (if you live in a city), but I call Health Direct; a phone line manned by nurses who can give you medical advice and are fantastic, a lot (1800 022 222). They have given me advice on burns, head injuries, gastro, cuts and possible broken bones.
You could ring your closest clinic or hospital and ask if you should come down if you are unsure, or if it’s during work hours (nothing ever seems to happen to us at the convenient time so this is unlikely) go to your health clinic/ doctors surgery and pop in and see a nurse or doctor.
I should probably say that none of this advice replaces a first aid course, I’ve done a few and find them so valuable. There are specialized courses for parents, and they give you a good idea of what to do for your children if they need your help. I have certainly used my senior first aid skills a lot and would certainly recommend everyone do a first aid course of some kind.