7 First Aid Skills You Can Teach Your Child at Home
The safety of our children is at the forefront of every parent and guardian’s minds. They think about what activities children should avoid to prevent hurting themselves, they pick the best foods and products for their kids, and they teach them rules to stay safe within society (ex. looking both ways before crossing the road, don’t talk to strangers, etc). But if you are seeking other ways to keep your family safe, then why not teach them the first aid skills that could save their life or someone else’s? First aid is a skill that is TIMELESS, which means that your kids are just as capable at learning how to save a life as you are! (Just take a look at our blog featuring the skills learned and used by kids who saved a life!) Want to start teaching the basic first aid skills to your child while at home? Here are 7 skills that kids should be taught and that can make an enormous impact on their overall safety and preparedness!
1. HOW to Call 911
When emergencies happen, we can freeze. It is only when our training kicks in that we can begin to act. Of course, during situations of injury, or life-threatening emergencies, calling 911 should ALWAYS be the first course of action. Of all the first aid skills you can teach your kids, it is most important to show them how to call 911. There are many things that go into making a call, and these are great to be practiced with your children. Review questions such as:
- What numbers do they press on the keypad?
- Do they know the passcode to your smartphone?
- What button do they click on a smart phone to make a phone call?
- What is their home address/where do they live?
Reviewing all these factors as well as some of the questions that emergency responders may ask them will ensure a child has the ability to call in an emergency.
2. WHEN to Call 911
Once a child knows HOW to call 911, it is then important that you discuss the reasons of when and why you would use this phone number. This is an opportunity to explain to your children the seriousness of calling this number and ensure they understand that they need to use the number responsibly. Then, identify certain emergencies that they may come across in which a call to 911 is appropriate, including situations where:
- There is a fire
- Someone has hurt themselves (bleeding, broken bone, etc.)
- Someone is not responding and no one else is around to help (eg: mommy is on the floor and not answering you)
- Someone is choking (show them the international sign for choking – hands around throat)
- They see a crime happen or a stranger is in the house
- They are scared for their own wellbeing
- They are lost
If they have the knowledge of what to look for and are able to understand what an emergency is, then they will be less afraid to call the number in uncertain and scary situations.
3. Where to Find a First Aid Kit
Whether an emergency includes a cut, a scrape, a ‘boo-boo’ or a more severe injury, having a first aid kit is often the solution to treating many accidents. Teaching your children where the first aid kit can be found in your home and showing them the different inclusions found within can keep them informed on how to help and what items are used for what type of emergency (ex. bandage for bleeding).
NOTE: If your first aid kit contains any medication or sharp objects like scissors, tweezers, or items you would not want your young children to have direct access to, then consider creating a separate child-friendly first aid kit. In this kit give them access to less harmful first aid items like bandages, wraps, tape, a list of emergency phone numbers, a first aid picture manual, flashlight, water, etc. This will guarantee they have direct access to first aid equipment that can help in an emergency but also will protect them from the misuse of other more hazardous first aid items.
4. Stopping the Bleed
Cuts and scrapes are a common household injury, but knowing how to treat them is the next step towards safety! Teach your child that should they ever cut themselves or see someone bleeding, that THEY have the ability to help! All they need to do is to:
- If it is bleeding a lot or is a particularly large wound, call 911
- Apply direct pressure until the bleeding stops
- If the blood soaks through, apply another bandage
In life-threatening emergencies, this simple action could be just the thing to ensure someone does not bleed out until help arrives.
5. Treating a Nose Bleed
Although nose bleeds are a common occurrence in all ages, some nosebleeds are more severe if the bleeding is not stopped over time. Teaching your child how to stop a nose bleed and when to call 911 is a great skill for them to have if they should ever be alone without the supervision of an adult. Explain to them that when having (or helping someone with) a nose bleed, to:
- Sit forwards slightly
- Pinch the nose near the nostrils (not the bridge) tightly to stop the blood flow
- Call 911 if the nose bleed lasts longer than 15 minutes
6. Treating a Burn
Curious hands in the kitchen lead to accidents, and when they do, does your child know how to respond appropriately? In particular, do they know how to treat a burn? Should your child ever touch the oven, a hot stove top, a curling iron, or any other heated surface, they can learn to react and treat the burn right away. Teach your child that if they should ever burn themselves, that they should work to cool the burn right away by:
- Calling 911 if they are alone
- Running the burned area under cool water (not too cold!)
- Grabbing a cool wet towel and covering the burn
7. Recognizing Signs of Choking and How to Help
One of the most common accidents to happen at home or in public is choking. If not attended to, choking can be very serious and even lead to death. This first aid skill is important for kids to understand because for the few seconds or minutes an adult or parent is out of the room, a younger sibling may grab hold of food or an item small enough to be lodged in their throat. If older children can recognize the signs and symptoms of choking and are educated on how to help, it could save a life! Share with your child the symptoms of choking, which include:
- Excessive coughing or gagging
- Pointing to their throat
- Holding their throat
- Their face turning a different colour
- Being unable to talk
- Falling unconscious
Then teach your child how to respond appropriately:
- Back Blows – giving firm blows between the shoulder blades
- Abdominal Thrusts – ‘hugging’ the person and giving upward thrusts just above the belly button
- Chest Thrusts – ‘hugging’ the person and giving straight thrusts on their chest
This is a great opportunity to also share with them what they should do if someone falls unconscious. Of course, always tell them that they need to call 911, but this may be a chance to discuss the recovery position with them as well as sign up as a family for further first aid training to teach your children how to perform CPR!
Reviewing and teaching these skills to your children of any age can help prepare them for the unexpected! Not only does it build confidence for the child, but it is a great way to learn together and bond as a family!
Want to give your family a more in-depth and guided first aid experience? Want to learn how to perform CPR, use an AED, and other life-saving skills? Register for our Online First Aid Course to do with your family (or group of 8+) so that you can learn further and more advanced skills from the comfort of your own home to build confidence and be prepared when things don’t go as planned!