7 Essential First Aid Skills All Parents Should Know

  • Reviewed By: M. Suleman (Safety Officer, GRADIOSH)

When it comes to parenting, there is an undeniable level of responsibility that must be embraced to guarantee the safety and well-being of our children. While it would be comforting to believe that nothing harmful could ever transpire, the reality is that accidents are an unfortunate part of life. This is precisely why every parent should comprehensively understand fundamental first aid skills.

Maintaining composure in an emergency and providing appropriate care can be immensely beneficial and even life-saving, whether caring for a child at home or embarking on exciting adventures together. In this informative blog post, we will delve into six crucial first-aid skills every parent should master ensuring they are well-equipped to handle unexpected situations.

Importance Of First Aid Skills For Parents

First aid skills are crucial for parents, as they provide them with the knowledge and ability to respond effectively to emergencies involving their children. By learning first aid, parents can ensure the safety and well-being of their families in various situations. The importance of first aid skills for parents can be understood from the following perspectives:

  • Early intervention: In emergencies, timely and appropriate first aid can be the difference between life and death. By acquiring first aid skills, parents can intervene promptly and effectively, potentially preventing further harm or injury to their children.
  • Confidence and composure: Parents with first aid skills are generally more confident and composed during emergencies. This calm demeanour can reassure the child and other family members, making it easier to manage and seek professional help.
  • Informed decision-making: First aid training equips parents to recognize the severity of an injury or illness and make informed decisions about when to seek professional medical help. This knowledge can help prevent over- or under-reacting to a situation and ensure that children receive the appropriate care.
  • Prevention and safety: First aid training often covers safety and injury prevention, which helps parents identify potential hazards and take necessary precautions to minimize the risk of accidents at home or in other environments.
  • Emotional support: Injuries or illnesses can be emotionally distressing for children. Parents with first aid skills are better equipped to provide emotional support, reassure their children, and help them cope, which can be essential to recovery.
  • Community support: Parents skilled in first aid can extend their support to the broader community by assisting in emergencies involving neighbours or friends, creating a safer environment for everyone.
  • Transferable skills: The skills acquired through first aid training are not limited to responding to emergencies involving children. They are equally applicable to adults, making parents better prepared to handle various emergencies that may affect family members, friends, or even strangers.
Vital First Aid Skills Every Family Should Know

Essential First Aid Skills All Parents Should Know

First aid skills are often overlooked, but they can be critical to keeping our loved ones safe. Knowing how to manage common medical emergencies can help you respond quickly and appropriately in a crisis. Here are 6 essential first-aid skills all parents should know:

1. CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

As a parent, being equipped with essential first aid skills can prove invaluable in emergency situations. One of the most critical skills is the ability to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). CPR is a life-saving technique that can help maintain blood flow to the brain and other vital organs when someone’s heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Keep in mind, while this information is useful, it’s crucial to take a certified CPR course for hands-on training.

The Importance of CPR

CPR is an essential first aid skill that can significantly increase the chances of survival for someone experiencing cardiac arrest, drowning, or other life-threatening events. When performed correctly, CPR can help:

  • Maintain blood flow to the brain and other vital organs
  • Provide oxygen to the victim’s lungs
  • Increase the likelihood of a successful resuscitation

By knowing how to perform CPR, you can potentially save someone’s life and minimize long-term damage to their health.

The Differences Between Infant, Child, and Adult CPR

CPR techniques differ for infants (under 1 year old), children (1 to puberty), and adults (puberty and older) due to their unique anatomical and physiological differences. It’s essential to understand these differences to ensure the correct method is used.

Infant CPR:
  • Use two fingers (index and middle) to perform chest compressions.
  • Deliver compressions at a depth of about 1.5 inches (4 cm).
  • Provide 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
Child CPR:
  • Use one hand (either one or two hands for larger children) to perform chest compressions.
  • Deliver compressions at a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm).
  • Provide 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
Adult CPR:
  • Use both hands to perform chest compressions.
  • Deliver compressions at a depth of at least 2 inches (5 cm) but not more than 2.4 inches (6 cm).
  • Provide 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.

Basic Steps for Performing CPR in Each Age Group

Infant CPR:
  • Place the infant on a firm, flat surface.
  • Open the airway by gently tilting the head back.
  • Check for breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
  • If the infant is not breathing, give two rescue breaths.
  • Begin chest compressions using two fingers.
  • Perform 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
  • Continue this cycle until help arrives.
Child CPR:
  • Place the child on a firm, flat surface.
  • Open the airway by tilting the head back.
  • Check for breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
  • If the child is not breathing, give two rescue breaths.
  • Begin chest compressions using one or two hands, depending on the child’s size.
  • Perform 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
  • Continue this cycle until help arrives.
Adult CPR:
  • Place the adult on a firm, flat surface.
  • Open the airway by tilting the head back.
  • Check for breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
  • If the adult is not breathing, give two rescue breaths.
  • Begin chest compressions using both hands.
  • Perform 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
  • Continue this cycle until
Basic First Aid Skills Every Parent Should Know

2. Choking and the Heimlich Maneuver

Choking occurs when a foreign object, usually a piece of food or a small toy, becomes lodged in the airway, blocking airflow and making it difficult to breathe. The Heimlich Maneuver, also known as abdominal thrusts, is a technique used to dislodge an object and restore normal breathing. Essential first aid skills all parents should know to include recognizing the signs of choking and performing age-appropriate interventions, such as the Heimlich maneuver or back blows.

Signs of choking in different age groups:

1. Infants (under 1 year old):
  • Inability to cry or make noise
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weak or ineffective cough
  • Turning blue or purple
  • Loss of consciousness
2. Children (1 to 12 years old):
  • Clutching at the throat
  • Inability to speak, cry, or cough effectively
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Turning blue or purple
  • Making high-pitched noises
  • Loss of consciousness
3. Adults:
  • Clutching at the throat
  • Inability to speak or cough effectively
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Turning blue or purple
  • Making high-pitched noises
  • Loss of consciousness

Performing the Heimlich maneuver or back blows for each age group:

1. Infants (under 1 year old):
  • Sit down and hold the infant face down on your forearm, resting on your thigh.
  • Support the infant’s head and neck with your hand.
  • Give up to 5 back blows between the infant’s shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
  • If the object is not dislodged, turn the infant face up on your forearm, supporting the head and neck.
  • Place two fingers in the centre of the infant’s chest and perform up to 5 chest thrusts.
  • Alternate between back blows and chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or the infant becomes unconscious.
2. Children (1 to 12 years old):
  • Stand behind the child and wrap your arms around their waist.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb against the middle of the child’s abdomen, above the navel but below the ribcage.
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and deliver up to 5 quick, inward, and upward thrusts.
  • If the child becomes unconscious, begin CPR and call for emergency help.
3. Adults:
  • Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around their waist.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side against the middle of the person’s abdomen, above the navel but below the ribcage.
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and deliver quick, inward and upward thrusts.
  • Continue abdominal thrusts until the object is dislodged or the person becomes unconscious.
  • If the person becomes unconscious, call for emergency help and begin CPR. Remember that it is essential for all parents to be familiar with these first aid skills to act quickly and effectively in a choking emergency.
First Aid Skills For Parents

3. Treating Cuts, Scrapes, And Wounds

As a parent, knowing how to handle minor injuries is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of your child. Children are naturally curious and adventurous, sometimes leading to accidents and injuries. Being prepared to address these situations can help minimize pain, discomfort, and potential complications. Here are some tips for handling and treating cuts, scrapes, and wounds:

1. Cleaning and dressing minor injuries:

Cleaning and dressing minor injuries are one of the essential first aid skills all parents should know. Follow these simple steps to clean and dress cuts, scrapes, and wounds:

  • Wash your hands: Before treating any injury, ensure your hands are clean to avoid introducing bacteria and germs to the wound.
  • Clean the wound: Rinse the wound gently with cold water to remove dirt or debris. You can use mild soap to clean the surrounding skin, but avoid getting soap inside the wound.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment: An over-the-counter ointment can help prevent infection. Avoid alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine, as these can delay healing.
  • Cover the wound with an appropriate bandage to keep it clean and protected.

2. Types of bandages and when to use them:

Knowing the right type of bandage for a specific injury is another essential first-aid skill all parents should know.

  • Adhesive bandages: These are ideal for small cuts and scrapes. Choose the right size to cover the entire wound and surrounding area.
  • Gauze: For larger wounds or oozing, use gauze pads or rolls. Gauze helps absorb fluids and allows the wound to breathe, promoting healing.
  • Butterfly bandages: These are used for small to medium-sized cuts that are slightly deeper or have jagged edges. Butterfly bandages help to close the edges of the wound and reduce scarring.

3. When to seek medical attention:

Some wounds require professional care. Seek medical attention if:

  • The wound is deep, large, or has jagged edges.
  • The bleeding does not stop after applying pressure for 10-15 minutes.
  • There is an object embedded in the wound.
  • The wound shows signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, or pus.
  • You suspect your child’s tetanus vaccination is not up to date, and the wound is caused by a dirty or rusty object.

4. Importance of a well-stocked first aid kit:

A well-stocked first aid kit is crucial for responding to minor injuries promptly and effectively. A good first-aid kit should include the following:

  • Adhesive bandages in various sizes
  • Sterile gauze pads and rolls
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Tweezers and scissors
  • Pain relievers and fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • A digital thermometer
  • A list of emergency contacts and medical information

Learning essential first aid skills, for all parents should know, such as treating cuts, scrapes, and wounds, is crucial for keeping your child safe and healthy. Make sure to have a well-stocked first aid kit at home and seek medical attention when necessary.

Essential First Aid Skills For Parents

4. Recognizing And Managing Fractures, Sprains, And Dislocations

Parents should have the skills to recognize and manage fractures, sprains, and dislocations because these injuries can occur at any time. Parents need to be able to provide initial care until professional medical help arrives. Having first aid skills can make a significant difference in reducing pain, preventing further injury, and promoting healing.

Fractures, sprains, and dislocations are common injuries from falls, sports injuries, or other accidents. Here is a brief overview of the signs and symptoms of these injuries, as well as the appropriate first-aid response:

  • Fractures: A fracture is a break in a bone. Symptoms of a fracture can include severe pain, swelling, bruising, deformity, and difficulty using the affected limb. The appropriate first aid response for a suspected fracture is immobilising the affected limb with a splint or sling and seeking medical help immediately. Do not attempt to straighten or move the limb, as this can cause further damage.
  • Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is the tissue that connects bones to each other. Sprain symptoms can include pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty using the affected joint. The appropriate first aid response for a suspected sprain is to rest, ice, compress, and elevate the affected joint. Over-the-counter pain medications can also be used to reduce pain and swelling. Seek medical help if the pain and swelling persist or the joint is deformed.
  • Dislocations: A dislocation is an injury in which a bone is forced out of its normal position in a joint. Symptoms of dislocation can include severe pain, swelling, deformity, and difficulty using the affected limb. The appropriate first aid response for a suspected dislocation is immobilising the affected limb with a splint or sling and seeking medical help immediately. Do not attempt to move or pop the bone back into place, as this can cause further damage.

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after any of these injuries occur, as prompt treatment can help to reduce pain, prevent further injury, and promote healing. Call emergency services for assistance if you cannot reach a hospital or medical facility.

5. Burns And Scalds

Burns and scalds are types of skin injuries caused by heat or chemicals. A burn is an injury to the skin or tissues caused by heat, electricity, radiation, or chemicals. A scald is a type of burn caused by hot liquids or steam.

Parents should have first aid skills for managing burns and scalds because these injuries are common and can occur at home. Children, especially young children, are more susceptible to burns and scalds because of their small size and developing immune systems. Early and appropriate first aid can help reduce the severity of the injury and prevent further damage to the skin and underlying tissues. Additionally, prompt and proper treatment can also help reduce the risk of infection and improve the chances of healing.

If a child experiences a burn or scald, parents must act quickly and follow proper first aid techniques to help prevent further injury and promote healing. This may include removing any burned clothing, cooling the affected area with running water, covering the burn with a clean, sterile bandage, and seeking medical attention if necessary.

Burns and scalds are common injuries due to heat, chemicals, electricity, or radiation exposure. The severity of a burn is determined by its depth and extent, which affects the type of first aid treatment required. There are three main degrees of burns:

  • First-degree burns: These burns affect only the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and cause pain, redness, and swelling. Sunburn is a common example of a first-degree burn. First-aid treatment for this type of burn involves running cool water over the affected area for at least 10-15 minutes and covering it with a clean, dry dressing. Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, can relieve pain.
  • Second-degree burns extend into the second layer of the skin (dermis) and cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering. Second-degree burns can be more serious than first-degree burns and require prompt medical attention. First-aid treatment for this type of burn involves running cool water over the affected area for at least 10-15 minutes, covering the area with a clean, dry dressing, and seeking medical attention.
  • Third-degree burns: These burns go all the way through the skin and into the underlying tissues, causing destruction of skin and tissues. Third-degree burns may appear white or charred, and the skin may appear leathery and dry. These burns can be very serious and require immediate medical attention. First-aid treatment for this type of burn involves covering the affected area with a clean, dry dressing and seeking immediate medical attention.

It’s important to seek medical attention for any burn that covers a large body area, has charred skin, is on the face, hands, feet, or a joint, or causes severe pain. In these cases, the burn may require special treatment, such as skin grafts, and a doctor can provide the appropriate care.

In summary, it’s important to identify the degree of burn, provide appropriate first aid, and seek medical attention if necessary to ensure proper treatment and healing.

Why Parents Should Have First Aid Skills

6. Recognizing Signs Of Concussion And Head Injuries

Parents should have first aid skills for recognizing signs of concussion and head injuries because children are prone to accidents, and head injuries are a common result of falls, sports, and other physical activities. Parents need to know how to recognize the signs of a concussion or head injury to seek prompt medical attention and ensure their child receives proper treatment.

If left untreated, a concussion can lead to long-term health problems, including headaches, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases, a head injury can result in permanent brain damage. By having the skills to recognize the signs of a concussion or head injury, parents can take quick action to protect their child’s health and well-being.

Additionally, first aid skills can help parents assess the injury’s severity and determine whether a child needs immediate medical attention, such as in the case of a skull fracture or bleeding on the brain. By being equipped with these skills, parents can provide quick and effective first aid in the event of a head injury, which can greatly improve the chances of a successful recovery.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury resulting from a blow to the head or a jolt to the body. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Memory problems or amnesia
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying focused
  • Slurred speech or trouble with coordination

Not all symptoms may appear immediately after the injury, and some may not show up for hours or even days after the incident.

The appropriate first aid response for a suspected concussion involves seeking immediate medical attention and taking steps to prevent further injury. This may include:

  • Keeping the person still and calm
  • Monitoring their breathing and pulse
  • Applying ice to the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Keeping the person awake and alert
  • Administering over-the-counter pain medication if necessary

It is important to seek medical help as soon as possible if you suspect someone has a concussion. This is especially true if the person experiences any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness, even if only briefly
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Persistent confusion or disorientation
  • A headache that gets worse over time
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Slurred speech or difficulty communicating

Sometimes, a person may not show any concussion symptoms for several hours or even days after the injury. Monitoring the person and seeking medical help if symptoms develop later is important.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion and providing appropriate first aid is critical in ensuring the health and well-being of the affected person. It is important to seek medical help promptly if you suspect someone has a concussion, as this can greatly improve the chances of a successful recovery.

7 Essential First Aid Skills All Parents Should Know

7. Poisoning And Allergic Reactions

Having the skills to recognize and treat a poisoning or an allergic reaction can be a life-saving skill. Parents should know how to act in case their child comes into contact with any poisonous substances or experiences an allergic reaction.

In case of accidental poisoning, parents need to know the basic first aid measures to take, such as calling 911 and providing information about the substance ingested. It is also important to recognize symptoms of poisoning and quickly identify what might have been the cause.

Here are a few reasons why parents should know first aid for poisoning and allergic reactions:

  • Quick response is critical: In the event of a poisoning or allergic reaction, every second counts. Parents can save their child’s life with the knowledge and skills to respond quickly.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing how to handle these emergencies can give parents peace of mind and a sense of security, especially when medical help is unavailable.
  • Avoiding dangerous missteps: Without proper training, a parent may worsen the situation by administering the wrong treatment or making the wrong call. Having the knowledge to act quickly and effectively can prevent this from happening.
  • Preparing for the unexpected: Accidents and emergencies can happen at any time, and it’s important to be prepared for them. With first aid skills, parents can be ready to respond in case of a poisoning or allergic reaction.

In summary, having first aid skills for poisoning and allergic reactions is important to being a responsible and prepared parent. It can potentially save a child’s life in an emergency.

Poisoning occurs when a person ingests, inhales, or comes into contact with a toxic substance. Allergic reactions occur when a person’s immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance, such as food, medications, or insect stings. Severe allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis, can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

To identify poisoning, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

To identify a severe allergic reaction, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Hives or rash
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Rapid or weak pulse
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Throat tightness

If you suspect poisoning, call the poison control centre immediately at 1-800-222-1222 in the United States. If you suspect a severe allergic reaction, use an EpiPen or other epinephrine auto-injector if you have one and call 911 or your local emergency services immediately. An EpiPen contains a dose of epinephrine, a hormone that can help reverse anaphylaxis symptoms.

Here’s how to use an EpiPen:

  • Remove the safety cap from the EpiPen.
  • Hold the EpiPen firmly in your hand with the needle end pointing down.
  • Swing and firmly push the needle end into the outer thigh muscle. The needle should be inserted at a 90-degree angle.
  • Hold the EpiPen in place for 10 seconds to allow the medication to be absorbed.
  • Remove the EpiPen and massage the injection site for 10 seconds.

It’s important to seek medical attention even after using an EpiPen as the effects of the medication may wear off after a few hours, and additional treatment may be necessary.

Photo of author

Author

Raja Umer

Umer is a safety professional with four years of experience across construction and general industries, with a focus on implementing safety measures to protect workers and customers.