Quick and appropriate responses to accidental injury of a child

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As parents and caregivers, we sometimes react on impulse without thinking when our children are injured. Other times, we rely on out-dated medical information, folklore treatment or well-meaning but misinformed advice that can worsen the situation.

How would you react if your child became injured or got caught up in a dangerous situation?

Your child gets burnt by scalding liquid: The first thing you ought to do is remove any garments around the wound and let cool water run on the affected area for around 10-20 minutes before loosely covering it with gauze or bandage. Do NOT ice the area! Applying ice directly on the area can result in frost-like injury. Cold water and ice can add more damage to the affected skin. Contrary to popular belief you should not put antibiotic ointment or other greasy ointments on the wound, unless prescribed by a doctor. If the wound blisters, see a doctor.

Your child is holding a packet of pills: Seek urgent medical assistance, if your child experiences any of the following symptomsnausea, vomiting, drowsiness, sleepiness, convulsion, seizure. If your child cannot speak yet and you’re unsure if any pills were swallowed, do not wait for obvious symptoms to appear. Head to a hospital immediately, and bring the medicine with you. Remember that swallowing medications can be fatal for your children. You should keep all medications well out of reach of children.

You and your child get caught in a riptide: Your first response may be to try swimming towards the shore. But in fact you should actually swim parallel to the beach, until you are beyond the pull of the current. Then slowly make your way to shore so you do not get tired. A lot of people drown as a result of panic, or exhaustion of fighting currents. Try as much as you can to remain calm so as not to alarm your child. Alert for help, if you can do so safely.

Your child is knocked to the ground, unconscious: At times like these, people are rushing in and trying to take the child to hospital. However, it is better to call for an ambulance as the child may be suffering from a brain or spinal injury; moving the child could worsen the injury. If a pulse cannot be detected and the child is not breathing, CPR should be safely administered on the child. Call out the child’s name to see if there is a response.

 Your child gets stung by a jellyfish: We’ve all heard that you should pee on jellyfish sting. That is a myth. You should remove any visible tentacles and rinse the area with seawater, as fresh water will actually worsen the pain. Head to the nearest shop or restaurant and get white vinegar, which you should apply on a piece of cloth or napkin – this will help with alleviating the pain by deactivating the stinging cells of most jellyfish. Go to the emergency room immediately if you notice your child has difficulty breathing, is wheezing or has broken out in hives. This could signify an allergic reaction, which should be treated right away.

 Your child gets poked in the eye: Instead of trying to pry the child’s eye open to look at the injury, you should gently cover the area by taping gauze or a clean, dry washcloth to his face so he cannot rub and further irritate the eye, and then head to the emergency room. If the cornea has been scratched, keeping the eye closed will ease the irritation. Trying to open it, putting ice on it, or applying pressure could cause more problems, which can lead to vision loss.

Your toddler is lying at the bottom of the pool: Pull the child out of water as quickly as possible. If you are not a good swimmer, grab something that floats – like a floater or a chair cushion before you jump in. If there is someone around, ask them to call for help. If you are alone, take the necessary steps to render first aid, especially if there is no sign of breathing or a pulse. Put the child in the recovery position, once water has been vomited out.

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