First aid

It’s something easily neglected but making sure all your checks are in place in case of injury in the home is a must.

Please read below:

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[su_spoiler title=”Burns” style=”fancy”]

DO

  • Place a closed burn wound smaller than a R5 coin under cool, running water for 10 minutes and gently pat dry.
  • Do the same for a closed burn wound bigger than a R5 coin, and keep a good watch over it.
  • For an open burn (second-degree with blister or popped blister) wounds, cover with a lint-free, damp (not wet) cloth.
  • Gently pat the burn dry.

DON’T

  • Put ice, butter or any ointments on the area and don’t break any blisters that have formed.
  • Use ice-cold water or ice on the burn.
  • Wrap the affected area tightly with a dressing.
  • Rub the burn to dry it.
  • Peel away any skin, clothing or fabric that is stuck to burnt skin.

WHEN TO WORRY

  • If an open burn wound is bigger than the palm of your hand, take your child to the doctor or emergency room immediately. If the burn wound is on the face or lower abdomen area, you should also go to the doctor or emergency room immediately.
  • A third-degree burn damages all the layers of the skin and destroys nerve endings, meaning your child won’t necessarily feel pain. The appearance of the skin could appear waxy, white, firm, charred and leathery. Seek immediate medical attention if your child has a third-degree burn.

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[su_spoiler title=”Choking” style=”fancy”]

DO
FOR A CHILD OLDER THAN ONE YEAR

  • First make sure your child is actually choking and not coughing forcefully. A child who is choking will make a gagging or high-pitched sound and won’t be able to talk. If your child is coughing forcefully, leave him alone.
  • If your child is choking, stand behind him and wrap your arms around his waist.
  • Make a fist with one hand, with your thumb folded in. Placing your fist just below the chest and slightly above the navel, grab your fist with the other hand.
  • Press your fist into the abdomen with a quick upward push to help expel the object or piece of food.
  • Repeat this movement until the piece of food or object comes out.
  • Once it’s out, make sure you take your child to the doctor, as part of the object or food may still be in the lung.

FOR A BABY UNDER ONE YEAR

  • If a choking baby can’t breathe, cough or make sounds, place him face down on the inside of your forearm with your arm resting on your thigh and your hand supporting Baby’s throat area. With the heel (between palm and wrist) of your other hand, give him four or five quick, forceful blows between the shoulder blades.
  • If this doesn’t work, turn your baby onto his back so that his head is lower than his torso. Place two or three fingers in the middle of the breast bone, just below the nipples. Press four or five times in succession (firmly but not forcefully).

DON’T

  • Give a slap on the back to either a coughing or choking child. You can actually lodge the object further down the windpipe if you do this.
  • Ask the child to raise his arms.
  • Poke your fingers into your baby’s or child’s mouth during a coughing or choking fit to try and retrieve the object causing the blockage.
  • Use abdominal thrusts in babies under one year old, pregnant women or obese people.

WHEN TO WORRY

  • If your baby or child goes blue or passes out, call an ambulance immediately.

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[su_spoiler title=”Emergency names and numbers” style=”fancy”]

Keep a copy of this list in your first-aid kit, as well as on the fridge. Save them on your cell phone. Numbers to include are:

  • Your family doctor or paediatrician’s regular and emergency numbers
  •  Your closest hospital
  • Your local fire service
  • Emergency assistance for poisoning: 0800 111 990
  • SA Police Flying Squad: 10111
  • SA Police Ambulance: 10177
  • Netcare 911 (private medical rescue service): 082 911
  • ER 24: 084 124

Cape Town has a single number for all emergencies: 107

When calling about an emergency from a cell phone, dial 112 and state which area you are calling from. You will then be put through to the relevant agency.

Mom’s tip
“As the mother of an adventurous nine-year-old, I like to keep rescue remedy, arnica tablets and hand sanitiser in my kit as well. Another handy item to keep in the kit is a plastic bag, which can be used to place swabs, etc. in before they are thrown away.”
Sarah Heep, The Order of St John

ST JOHN CENTRE FIRST-AID TRAINING COURSES
Cape Town 021 461 8420
Johannesburg 011 403 4227
KwaZulu-Natal 031 305 6588
Port Elizabeth 041 364 2701
Please go to www.stjohn.org.za or call 011 646 5520 for more information about availability of courses near you.

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[su_spoiler title=”First aid kit essentials” style=”fancy”]

  • Wound cleaner/antiseptic
  • Swabs for cleaning wounds
  • Cotton wool for padding
  • Sterile gauze
  • Tweezers (to remove splinters)
  • Scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Triangular bandages
  • Roller bandages
  • Roll of elastic adhesive
  • Non-allergenic adhesive strip
  • Plasters in various sizes
  • Dressings
  • Splints
  • Disposable latex gloves
  • CPR mouth pieces or similar devices

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[su_spoiler title=”Near drowning” style=”fancy”]

DO

  • Check to see if your child is breathing and has a pulse.
  • If he isn’t breathing but has a pulse, start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and call an ambulance. Perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by tilting the head back and opening the mouth. Don’t over-extend the neck. Place your mouth over your child’s mouth (or mouth and nose) and breathe gently until his chest rises. If this doesn’t happen, make sure the seal over the mouth is tight, the child’s head is not over-extended, and that there is no airway obstruction. Two breaths should be given initially.
  • If your child has no pulse, you should perform CPR. However, this can only be learnt from a qualified first-aid teacher, so it would be very wise to do a first-aid course with St John Ambulance. Also bear in mind that the paediatric CPR technique is different to the one used for adults.
  • If your child has become unconscious but is still breathing, place him in the recovery position by doing the following:
    • Lay him on his back and kneel by his side.
    • Roll him towards you. This way, when he wakes up, he doesn’t look into a wide space and think he’s alone.
    • Position the arm that’s on the ground to lie straight, with his head and cheek resting on it. Rest the other arm over his chest.
    • Bend the upper knee that’s not on the ground at a 90° angle.
    • Take the elbow of the arm resting on his chest, together with his bent knee, and gently pull his body towards you. Allow the bent knee to rest on the ground. Ensure your child’s head and cheek remain resting on his straightened arm on the ground.
  • Even if you’re able to revive your child quickly, you must take him to a doctor as lung complications could have arisen from the incident, as well as fluid and body chemical (electrolyte) imbalances and other traumatic injuries that may not be visible or apparent.

DON’T

  • Perform the abdominal thrust (the Heimlich manoeuvre) on a child or person who’s been through a near-drowning. Doing this raises the risk of an unconscious child or adult vomiting and subsequently choking on the vomit.
  • Perform CPR on someone who’s still breathing.

WHEN TO WORRY

  • All near-drowning incidents require the urgent assistance of paramedics as well as a doctor.

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[su_spoiler title=”Poisoning” style=”fancy”]

DO

  • If you see any of the following signs indicating that your child has ingested a poisonous substance, call your doctor or the Poison Information Centre (0800 111 990) urgently:
    • Breath odour e.g. the smell of paraffin
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Drowsiness
    • Tummy pain
    • Burns or injuries in the mouth and food pipe (oesophagus)
  • Before making the call, make sure you’ve noted down your child’s age, weight, medical conditions and a list of medications he may be taking, so that you can give this information to your doctor or the person answering the phone at the Poison Information Centre.
  • Take the substance or its empty container along with you to the doctor or trauma room, and note how much of it was consumed.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the container of ingested substance or follow instructions from the Poison Information Centre. If your child’s skin has come into contact with a dangerous household chemical such as ammonia, bleach, drain cleaner or battery acid, immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with water. If your child’s clothing has also come into contact with the substance, run water under the clothing as you take it off. This will aid the rapid removal of the toxin. If the chemical has got into your child’s eye or mucous membranes, flush it out with copious amounts of water before urgently seeking medical attention.

DON’T

  • Induce vomiting. Wait for your doctor or the Poison Information Centre to tell you if this is necessary.
  • Don’t force your child’s eye open if a toxic substance has got into it.
  • Panic. Staying calm is very important at a time like this.

WHEN TO WORRY

  • If your child passes out, call an ambulance immediately.

 

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[su_spoiler title=”Scrapes & cuts” style=”fancy”]

DO

  • For minor injuries, wash the affected area with clean, running water.
  • Clean the wound from the side of the wound, away from the injury, to prevent infection.
  • Pour Savlon, Dettol or diluted bleach over the wound to prevent infection.
  • Gently remove any small objects, e.g. splinters or gravel, from the wound with tweezers. Note: Clean the tweezers with boiling water before using them.
  • Allow minor cuts and abrasions to be exposed to air, as it promotes clotting and healing. However, if your child has a cut on the bottom of his foot, for example, cover it with sterile gauze and adhesive bandage for a little while in order to help keep it clean. Remove the dressing at night and clean the wound before bed time.

DON’T

  • Breathe on an open wound.
  • Assume that an abrasion is clean if you can’t see any dirt or foreign objects inside it.
  • Remove a long or deeply embedded object. Seek medical attention immediately.

WHEN TO WORRY

  • Call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately if:
    • the cut is large or deep, even if it isn’t bleeding heavily.
    • your child has been bitten by another child or an animal, and there’s an open wound.
    • you didn’t take your child for his last tetanus shot.
    • your child’s injury was caused by a nail or rusty fish hook.
    • after treating the wound, there are signs of infection like redness, inflammation, an odour and pus.

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[su_spoiler title=”Concussion” style=”fancy”]

DO

  • Even if your child has suffered a knock to the head that doesn’t initially appear to be serious, if you notice any of the following signs, make a trip to your doctor or the emergency room immediately:
    • Persistent headache
    • Uneven pupils while looking straight into light
    • Nausea
    • Short-term loss of newly acquired skills, such as toilet training
    • Tiredness
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Difficulty remembering things or concentrating
    • Ringing in the ears
    • Mood swings
    • Lack of interest in playing or toys
    • Sensitivity to light and sound
    • Increased irritability
  • If a bump to your child’s head causes bruising or swelling, apply an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in
  • a towel or plastic bag to the area for no longer than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Keep your child as still and calm as possible.
  • Gently apply sterile gauze to a bleeding head wound and bandage firmly to keep in place. If bleeding soaks through sterile gauze, do not remove; just add another layer of gauze.

DON’T

  • Let your little one take part in any form of rough-and-tumble play or sports for 48 hours after the injury.
  • Attempt to clean the wound or remove any object that may be lodged in your child’s head.
  • Apply ice directly to the skin as this can cause frostbite.
  • Remove sterile gauze if bleeding has soaked through it.

WHEN TO WORRY

  • If your child is still a baby and the injury has caused the fontanelle (soft spot) on top of his head to bulge, see your doctor immediately.
  • If you have difficulty waking your child, seek urgent medical attention.
  • If concussion symptoms last longer than six weeks after the injury, consult your doctor.
  • If your child shows signs of disorientation, stops responding to you, starts having convulsions, passes out or his pupils are unequal in size (and this isn’t usual), call an ambulance straight away.

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