HEALTH: Are your kids prepared for an emergency?

11 February 2018

You never know when an emergency will strike. As gloomy as this statement sounds, it’s important that you and your children understand this. While we, as adults, may be able to hold our own in an emergency, knowing your young ones will be able to respond to an emergency on their own provides peace of mind. Here’s the rundown on why children should know the basics, how to prepare them for an emergency situation, and what to include in your first aid kit.

Why your children should know first aid basics

Even the most basic first aid skills can save a life. In Australia, it makes sense that adults and children should know simple first aid. With summer on our doorstep families will be flocking to the beaches or pools to cool off, which always has potential hazards. On top of water risks, we also have to contend with snake bites, as well as the usual suspects such as cardiac arrest, choking, and burns. But if you’re being honest with yourself, do you actually know how to perform emergency CPR? And could you treat someone who has been bitten or burned.

The Australian Red Cross has found that less than five per cent of Aussies are trained in how to handle an emergency situation. This is worrying, as according to the Australian Active Kids Report, 38.4 per cent of parents believe it’s extremely important that adults and older children should have first aid training, while a further 41.6 per cent believe it is very important. So while the intention to learn is there, there doesn’t seem to be enough action.

Who should your child contact in an emergency

For children, a large part of responding to an emergency is knowing who to call. This means teaching them when and how to dial 000 and speak to an emergency operator. This starts with talking about what an emergency actually is. It can help to create a list of emergencies, describe each one, and have them answer who they would ask for in each example – police, fire or ambulance.

Emphasise that your children should only dial 000 if there isn’t an adult around to do so. To prepare them, practice using the phone, making sure they know their name, address and phone number. It’s worth doing a role-play emergency situation, to demonstrate the importance of speaking clearly and staying calm under pressure. 

First aid children can learn

As much as we want our children to be children, emergencies happen. Instead of shielding them against everyday horrors, it’s important we make sure they’re properly equipped to deal with them. While teenagers can learn more advanced first aid skills, here are some basics that both young and old should know – on top of calling 000:

1. Assessing the situation

Emergencies are scary for young children. However, it’s important that they know how to stay calm and what to do. Children should be taught how to do a basic check on an injured or suffering person, and make sure the space is safe from potential risks. To teach them what to look for, you need to know what you’re talking about and be up to date with your own first aid skills.

2. Controlling severe bleeding

If not treated, severe bleeding can quickly become life threatening. However, even young children can be taught to use a clean towel and apply pressure to the wound. Not only should they know not to remove the towel, but also where they can find one.

3. Specific emergencies

Does anyone in the family suffer from diabetes, epilepsy, or a severe allergy? If you or your children have specific conditions, it’s important that everyone knows how to deal with related emergencies, whether that’s how to use an EpiPen, or improve and monitor a diabetic’s glucose levels.

Essentials for your first aid kit

What you include in your first aid kit will depend on where you live in Australia. Jump onto Healthdirect Australia to research first aid kits and customise yours accordingly. To get started, the essentials to include are:

  • A variety of bandages and crepe bandages
  • A supply of sterile, unopened gauzes
  • A clean, sharp pair of scissors
  • Sodium chloride solution for cleaning cuts
  • Antiseptic ointment/cream to help prevent infection
  • Sterile gloves
  • Splinter probe
  • Alcohol free cleansing wipes

It’s important to check expiration dates and keep your first aid kit well stocked. If you or your children use something, make sure the item is replaced as soon as possible.

 

By Tatiana Day

Tatiana Day is a dedicated mum of three beautiful children who keep her on her toes! As Head of Corporate Affairs at Real Insurance and with a background in PR and journalism across Financial Services she is keenly interested in the evolving life of the modern Australian family and the pressures put on it. When she can find some downtime, Tatiana enjoys cooking, music and breathing in the great outdoors.

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Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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