Teaching First Aid
First aid training isn’t just for adults. Even if your family takes every possible precaution, it’s still inevitable that there will be an injury or medical emergency at some point. It is essential for older children and teens, who stay home alone or go places without adult supervision, to have basic first aid skills. However, even young children who are never unsupervised need to know how to respond in an emergency. Their parent or another adult caregiver may be the one in medical distress and have to rely on the child for help. When people have first aid knowledge, they are less likely to panic during an emergency and may even save the life of a loved one or friend.
Please note: I’m not a medical professional. Nothing in this post should be considered a substitute for professional medical advice.
What First Aid Skills to Teach
The skills you choose to teach will depend a lot on the age and maturity of your child. Even very young children should be taught how to dial 911 (or the emergency number in your country). Many fairly young children can also be taught skills like applying pressure to a wound to stop bleeding or hands-only CPR. Below are some of the first aid skills you may want to consider teaching your children. Visit each link for instructions and more information.
- Dialing 911 (or your country’s emergency number)
- Treating burns
- Treating cuts & scrapes and how to stop bleeding
- Handling choking
- Spotting a concussion
- Handling a nose bleed
- Handling bug bites and stings
- Administering hands-only CPR (US residents should call 911, not 000 or 112 as mentioned in this video.)
Children should also be familiar with any medical issues (diabetes, epilepsy, severe allergies, asthma, etc.) members of the household have and how to help should an emergency arise.
Free Resources for Learning About First Aid
These free courses, articles, and videos are a great way to teach your kids first aid skills.
First Aid for Free offers the following courses: Basic First Aid, Advanced First Aid, Pediatric First Aid, Online Automated External Defibrillator, CPR, Anaphylaxis Awareness, and Asthma Awareness. The courses include online text, videos, and quizzes. When a student completes a course, they’ll receive a printable certificate. While these courses are a better fit for teens and adults, children may be able to complete some of them as well. Be sure to preview the course content before deciding if it is appropriate for your kids.
Kids Health provides many health related articles including safety and first aid articles for the entire family. Here’s what you’ll find at Kids Health:
- Safety & First Aid Articles for Parents
- Safety & First Aid Articles for Teens
- Safety & First Aid Articles for Kids
St. John Ambulance provides several downloadable first aid lesson plans. Stage 2 lesson plans are for ages 7 to 11, stage 3 lesson plans are for ages 11 to 14, and stage 4 lesson plans are for ages 14 to 16. These comprehensive lesson plans cover the emergencies kids are most likely to encounter. The lesson plans were created for use by schools in England, but they may be downloaded and used by families anywhere. Any time the materials mention dialing 999 or 112, American parents will want to change it to 911 to avoid confusion.
NSC First Aid Video Library is a collection of videos that teach how to handle many different medical emergencies. Most of the videos are appropriate for a wide range of ages, but I would recommend previewing the videos to ensure the skill taught is suitable for your child’s age and maturity.
This video from Operation Ouch provides an excellent introduction to first aid for younger kids. Dr. Chris and Dr. Xand demonstrate how to handle several common emergencies, including a burn, asthma attack, unresponsive person, allergic reaction, and poisoning. Because this video was made in the UK, it mentions dialing 999. American parents should make sure their children understand that our emergency number is 911.
Putting Together a First Aid Kit
Every household needs a first aid kit. The courses and resources above won’t be of much help without access to the necessary supplies. Ensure that your kids know where to find the first aid kit, and teach them how to use each item in the kit. If you don’t have a first aid kit, now is a great time to put one together. The entire family can help locate the necessary items and place them in the kit. Here are some suggested items to include:
- sterile gauze pads of different sizes
- bandage strips and “butterfly” bandages in assorted sizes
- elastic bandage
- antiseptic wipes
- antiseptic solution
- antibiotic ointment
- hydrocortisone cream
- acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- instant cold packs
- alcohol wipes or ethyl alcohol
- disposable gloves
- cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
- hand sanitizer
- eyewash solution
Also, make sure your children know where to find other items members of your household may need in a medical emergency, such as EpiPens and rescue inhalers.
Hopefully, your children won’t ever encounter a medical emergency, but if they do, the resources in this post should help them be better prepared.
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