Health & Wellness Child Developement
Simple first aid all parents should know
Thinking of it as a jinx, superstition or bad luck, many parents shy away from thinking about accidents or emergency situations involving their children. Due to this, parents often rush to the hospital without knowing what they themselves can do as a first response. Here are some tips that can make all the difference in the short time that passes before getting medical help.
What constitutes an emergency? When to call 995 vs. 1777
The go-to in any case of a medical emergency (e.g. severe allergy, breathlessness, accidents etc.) is to call for an ambulance.
995 is for grave medical emergencies when time is of critical essence. While this is free and the quickest way to medical help, it should not be misused.
Call 1777 for scenarios that require attention but are not medical emergencies (e.g. skin rash, chronic cough etc.) Do remember it is a charged service.
First aid tips for emergency situations:
Child ingests poison
Any number of ordinary household products can be harmful to your child if ingested, including cleaning chemicals, insecticide, or make-up. If the child is showing adverse symptoms such as vomiting, convulsions, seizures, or if your child is not breathing, the first thing to do is call 995. Then, find out the exact poison that the child has been in contact with. It will help with the antidote. Most household poisons also have first aid instructions on the label. Follow them calmly as you wait for medical help. Don't make your child vomit as it can cause more damage.
Burns are extremely painful and if severe, seek medical help immediately. Factors that constitute a severe burn include: the area is bigger than the child's hand, the burn area has white or charred skin, results in blisters, or is a chemical or electrical burn. Meanwhile, hold the affected part under running water for at least 10 minutes. Once the burn has cooled, cover it with cling wrap or clean plastic to prevent drying out.
If a child is gagging or coughing, this may indicate a partial blockage in their airway. Letting your child continue to cough is the most effective way to clear her airway. However, if a child is unable to cough up the object or suddenly unable to cry, cough, or speak, have someone call 995 straight away while you carry out the following steps:
If it is a baby, hold them on your thighs with the head lower than the back and give five firm blows to the back, between their shoulder blades. If this doesn't work, turn the baby over and give five chest thrusts by placing two fingers in the centre of their chest, below the sternum and pushing upwards.
For older children you can follow the reverse of the Heimlich. Hold them firmly as they are standing and give five blows between the shoulder blades. Then give five abdominal thrusts by holding the child around the waist and pushing upwards.
A child can have epileptic seizures or febrile seizures that are caused by high fevers. Use something soft like a blanket or a jacket to protect their head from injury. Do not restrain the child. When the seizure is over, let them lay on their side with the head tilted back. Call 995 if its the child's first seizure, and pay attention to the length of the seizure so you can give an accurate report.
Not all falls will result in a broken bone. Tell-tale signs of a broken bone include: too much pain when moving, touching, or bearing weight on the injury, the child is lying in an unnatural position, or there is swelling or a deformity present.
Do not move the child more than absolutely necessary. Keep the injury immobile using blankets, cloth or cushions. Call 995 if the injury is in the head, neck, or back, or if you can see the broken bone through the skin. For less severe injuries, remove clothing around the injured part, apply a cold compress wrapped in cloth, and bring your child to a doctor to confirm what type of fracture it is.
Insect bites or stings
While some bug bites or stings cause only temporary discomfort, others can be fatal, especially if there is an allergic reaction involved. Call 995 immediately and move to a safe area if you notice difficulty in breathing, severe swelling, dizziness or fainting, or nausea or vomiting. For less severe reactions, check if it is a bee or wasp sting, by seeing if the stinger is still embedded on the skin. It can be removed by scraping using your fingernail or the edge of a credit card. Wash with soap and water and then apply a cold compress. You can also use a soothing cream or gel like aloe gel or calamine lotion.
Cuts and scrapes are very common in children but anything that bleeds heavily needs immediate attention. Put pressure on the cut with your hands or anything that is available to stop the flow of blood. Do not stop until you can reach qualified medical help.
Babies falling from resting places and toddlers taking a tumble are common, but if the child is pale and has a bump with pain or a headache, be attentive.
Let the child lean back or lie down and place a cold compress on the affected area. If they become confused, vomit or are drowsy, call 995 or take them to a hospital immediately.
Nosebleeds can be caused by injury to the nose, or even by a dry nasal passage, or persistent nose-picking. Pinch the soft portion of your child's nose and ask the child to bow their head down. Keep slight pressure on for 10 minutes. Seek medical attention if the bleeding lasts more than 20 minutes.
Common allergy triggers include pollen, dust mites, animal hair, nuts, eggs, dairy, or seafood. Symptoms of an allergic attack include:
-Tightness in chest/difficulty breathing
-Redness or swelling of the lips, eyes, face
-Stomach pain, vomiting
-Runny Nose or Watery eyes
Call 995 If you suspect your child is undergoing an anaphylactic shock which may include all or some of the above symptoms. Kids with food allergies or asthma are at highest risk for anaphylaxis. If your child has a known food allergy, ask your physician if you require an Epinephrine auto injector prescription.
About 20% of children in Singapore are affected by Asthma. Your child may have asthma if they have prolonged coughing or wheezing. In this case, you should take them to a doctor to see if they need an inhaler. If they are a diagnosed asthmatic and they are still having difficulty breathing, help the child sit in a comfortable position, assist them to take a puff of their inhaler every 30-60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs. Call 995 if their symptoms do not improve even after using an inhaler.
Knowing these simple first aid measures in case of an emergency can help you keep you calm and focussed, as well as more capable of comforting your little one when faced with any trouble. As they say in the Boy Scouts: Be prepared.
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