First Aid Every Parent Should Know

first aid

I have always wanted to help people and loved learning first aid as a part of my babysitter’s class. In 2007, I became a paramedic. I had all the faith in the system, that if you called us, we would show up to your emergency in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, that is not the current reality of the EMS system. There are patients waiting, sometimes hours, for an ambulance to arrive after calling 911.

DISCLAIMER: I am in not a certified first aid instructor, but I am a mother with advanced first aid knowledge that I think every mother (and father) need to know in the event of an emergency with your child. I am, in no way, telling you not to call 911, but these tips will help you in the event that you are left waiting for help to arrive.


  • Choking is the leading cause of death in children under 14 years.
  • Foods like hot dogs and grapes are the exact size of the child’s esophagus and are easily lodged if swallowed whole. ALWAYS slice in half when giving them to small children.
  1. If the child is able to cough, encourage them to keep doing so until the object comes out of their mouth
  2. If the infant/child is unable to cough or move air, but remains conscious, call 911 and do the following:
    1. INFANTS
      1. Tilt the baby downward to aid with gravity
      2. Do 5 chest thrusts, followed by 5 back blows.
      3. Continue rotating each step until the baby stops choking (item has come out of the mouth), help arrives, or the baby becomes unconscious.
      4. Do not do a finger sweep of the mouth even if you can see the object as you can push it further down the throat
      1. Do abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) until the item is dislodged, help arrives, or the child becomes unconscious
  3. If the infant/child becomes unconscious, start CPR.
  4. If help has not arrived yet, call 911 back and advise them that the child is now unconscious and CPR is being performed. If you do not know how to do CPR, the 911 dispatcher will be able to walk you through the steps

***I highly encourage all parents to learn CPR***

911 911 911


  • There are generally 2 types of seizures in children
    • Seizure disorders such as Epilepsy
    • Febrile Seizures
  1. Seizure disorders
    1. Help the child to the ground and remove anything in the area that could injure them
    2. DO NOT put anything in their mouths or try to restrain them
    3. Put clothing or a blanket under their heads to prevent injury
    4. Help them on their side if possible to prevent choking as drooling/vomiting may occur
    5. The child may experience convulsions. This is called the tonic-clonic phase. The child will not be able to respond to you at this time.
    6. If your child has a known seizure disorder, follow the instructions given by their neurologist
    7. If this is a first time seizure, or the reason for the seizure is unknown, call 911
    8. Stay with the child and time the seizure. If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, update the 911 dispatcher.
    9. Once the seizure has stopped, the child will be confused and may have been incontinent. This is normal. This is called the post-tictal phase. It can last minutes to hours at times.
    10. Reassure the child and keep them in recovery position.
  2. Febrile Seizures
    1. These types of seizures can occur in children aged 6 months – 5 years old, though most common from 12-18 month
    2. The seizure is a result of a fever (>38°C or 100.4°F)
    3. Follow the instructions above.
    4. Remove excess blankets and clothing from child to cool them
    5. A damp cloth can also help cool the child.
    6. DO NOT wrap the child up in blankets (this is a common mistake we do when our kids are feeling unwell)
    7. A febrile seizure does not mean that your child now has a seizure disorder.

911 911


Head Injuries/Concussions

  • I don’t know if it’s just my kids, but they seem to bump their heads all the time
  • Most bumps on the head are minor
    • Things to look for with minor head injuries:
      • Child is acting normally right away
      • Child cries or expresses that it hurt right away, but easily consoled
      • small bumps, bruises and may appear but do not get bigger
  • Cuts on the head and face area bleed ALOT. Our heads have a lot of blood vessels. The amount of blood does not necessarily equate to the severity of the injury (it often looks way worse than it actually is)
  • When to call 911:
    • Your child is unconscious after hitting their head
    • Your child vomits, especially if it is repeatedly
    • Your child does not cry, but acts dazed and confused
    • Your child is not acting themselves
    • The bump or bruise continues to get bigger
    • You are unable to stop the bleeding with simple pressure applied
    • Your child is complaining of blurred vision
    • Your child’s pupils (the center black part of the eye) are different sizes from each other
    • Your child begins seizing
    • There is any kind of deformity to the skull bones
    • Your child complains of dizziness and loss of balance
    • Your child is confused or can’t remember earlier events
  • These symptoms can happen immediately or over the course of 24 hours. Please watch your child after any head injury. Your child is allowed to sleep, but may need to be gently awoken every few hours.


Anaphylaxis/Allergic reaction

  • Anaphylaxis refers to a life threatening allergy. It involves more than one body system, and requires immediate medical intervention
  • Allergic reactions are minor reactions to an allergen.
  • Reactions do not typically happen with the first exposure to the allergen, it is often the second exposure
  • Anaphylaxis – ALWAYS CALL 911
    • Symptoms include:
      • Swelling in or around the mouth and tongue
      • Throat swelling
      • Difficulty breathing, wheezing
      • Difficulty swallowing
      • Cool, pale, and sweaty skin
      • Chest pain
      • Vomitting
      • Hives (full body raised rash)
    • Common allergens causing anaphylaxis in children include, but are not limited to:
      • Bees/wasps stings
      • Food allergens (ie. peanuts, tree nuts, milk, shellfish, fish, eggs, and some fruits)
      • Medicines (ie. Penicillin)
    • If you have been prescribed an epi pen, use it immediately in a large muscle (most common area is the thigh)
      • An epi pen will go through clothing
      • A children’s epi pen is for children up to 66lbs, an adult epi pen is for those over 66 lbs
      • The adult epi pen is twice the dosage of the children’s epi pen
    • Using on an epi pen buys you time, it does not mean that you no longer need medical attention, your reaction can come back after the epinephrine wears off, requiring more medication
    • Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline. It may make you feel shaky, heart racing, nauseated, and sweaty. This is a side effect and not a reaction to it.
    • ALWAYS carry an epi pen with you if it has been prescribed to you or your child, it can be a matter of life and death. Anaphylaxis can happen anywhere.

911 911 911

  • Allergic reactions:
    • Symptoms include:
      • Hives (localized or full body)
      • Itchiness
      • Nausea or upset tummy
      • No troubles breathing or swallowing
      • Can be caused by a known or unknown allergen
    • Does not require immediate medical attention unless symptoms get worse or difficulty breathing or swallowing begins
    • Over the counter Diphenhydramine (Benadryl is the common brand name) can be used to treat allergic reactions
    • Many symptoms resolve on their own without medication
    • An allergy test may be required, ordered by your family doctor or pediatrician



  • Most burns experienced by children are minor (first degree) burns.
    • These burns will be red and could have some blistering
    • Most common areas are hands or fingers when they grab something hot and quickly pull away
    • Burns HURT. Pain does not mean they are severe.
    • If the burn is on an extremity, run cool water over the burn to cool it and stop the burning process. DO NOT use ice on a burn.
    • If the burn is closed, there is no need for creams or ointments.
    • If there is an open portion, or the blister popped, use an antibiotic cream (ie. polysporin)
    • DO NOT use butter, grease, powders or anything like that. I don’t even know why people used to think that, it is WRONG
    • Once cooled, cover the burn with a clean bandage, the oxygen in the air makes the burn hurt more, covering it will soothe the pain
    • Over the counter pain medicine (such as children’s tylenol or advil) can be used to help ease the pain and swelling
    • It will likely hurt for a few days, before feeling better
  • Seek medical attention immediately (911) if:
    • The burn is bigger than 3cm in diameter
    • The burn is deep (past the first layer of skin), even if the child has no pain
    • The burn has large blisters
    • The burn is to the face or groin, or covers most of the hands or feet
    • The burn is to the throat or airway
    • The burn is all the way around an extremity
  • Cover the burn with cool, clean dressings or fabric. Try to avoid anything dirty to possibly introduce bacteria into the wound. If that is all that’s available, bacteria can be treated later, use the wrap to stop the burning process.
  • If the child’s clothing is stuck to the burn, do not try to remove it
  • Do not pop blisters if they form

911 911  911


  • Sprain: Injury involving a ligament
  • Strain: Injury involving a muscle or tendon
  • Fracture: Injury involving a bone
  • Strains and strains are often just as painful as a fracture, but do not require interventions such as casts or surgery.
  • If there is a deformity to the joint or bone, you are unable to move the joint (and not just because it hurts to do so), or the skin below the injury is cold, mottled or blueish (indicating a problem with blood flow), or there is an open wound, seek immediate medical attention
  • Symptoms may include:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Bruising
    • Limited ability to move the affected joint
    • Hearing or feeling a “pop”
  • Treatment:
    • The RICE method
      • R: Rest (Try to rest the injured area as much as possible)
      • I: Ice (make sure not to put ice directly on the skin to avoid frostbite, 20 min on, 20 min off is the rule of thumb)
      • C: Compression (tape or bandage the area to stabilize and reduce swelling)
      • E: Elevation (keep the injured area above the heart to reduce swelling)
  • If the injury becomes more painful, decreased ability to move it, or is just not getting better, medical attention might be required.
  • Anti-inflammatories like Advil or Motrin work best for pain and swelling. Tylenol works well for pain.

911 911



  • Kids cut and scrape themselves all the time (at least mine do lol)
  • Most cuts/scrapes can be taken care of at home with a bandaid and some polysporin
  • When do we need to seek medical attention for stitches:
    • The wound continues to bleed even after 15 minutes of direct pressure
    • The wound is deep (about a quarter inch or more), even if it is not long
    • The wound is long (greater than 3/4 of an inch)
    • The wound is jagged or gaping
    • If the blood is spurting (this indicates an artery instead of a vein)
    • The wound is in any area that you are concerned about scarring for cosmetic reasons (ie. the face)
    • The wound is over a joint
  • Other times that medical attention is required:
    • Animal or human bites that puncture the skin
    • The wound appears infected (redness, swelling, pus/discharge, foul smell)
    • You were cut by a dirty or rusty material (will need a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in the previous 10 years)

911 911


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