Nobody wants to think about bad things happening and so we tend to avoid being prepared in the case of an emergency. The problem is that if we do find ourselves in a situation and we are not prepared, sometimes panic takes over and we cannot think straight. This was my experience about 11 years ago when my then 5 year old son decided to set fire to a teddy in his toy box which was just below the hanging nappy bag, full of highly flammable nappies! I knew I needed to call the fire brigade but I could not find the number. I somehow called the electricity department and then 10111, who put me through a series of questioning. We ended up with the flying squad arriving armed with weapons. Eventually the fire brigade arrived, but not before a lot of damage had been done.
If you treat your safety plan and first aid tips as part of your “home organisation system”, it won’t feel so ominous!
I asked our friends at Safe Kids if they could give us some general basic first aid tips that I could share with you. These tips can also be found in the MOM and WOW Diary, the best place to keep any important information.
BE PREPARED AND ORGANISED
Sit down now and prepare a home safety plan. This includes knowing the emergency numbers, having a safe place in your home where you can stay if necessary until help arrives and ensuring you have two unobstructed exits should you need to escape from your home in the event of an emergency. It is also recommended that you have a fire extinguisher and know how to use it. You should ensure that whoever takes care of your children is aware of the plan so they are able to behave appropriately in an emergency.
Ensure that you have a well stocked first aid kit. Check it regularly for expired medication and dispose of appropriately. Keep all medications out of reach of children.
BASIC FIRST AID TIPS
The information below contains general, basic suggested treatment while you wait for medical assistance to arrive. If you’re unsure of what to do in an emergency, call for an ambulance, and the emergency dispatcher will assist you over the phone.
(Remember, if you are going to transport a child to hospital yourself, the child must be securely strapped into their car seat, and NOT on your lap).
CPR and Choking
- It is highly recommended that you attend a Basic CPR / First Aid Course in your area in order to learn the correct techniques of CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and Choking.
- Cool the burn by placing the burnt area under cool water for at least 2 minutes.
- Cover with a sterile dressing.
- A burn gel/product may be used according to instructions on the packaging.
- DO NOT put any butter, Vaseline, ice or anything else onto the burn!
- Protect the patient from further injury.
- Turn the patient on their side (if no suspected head or neck injuries).
- DO NOT put anything into their mouth.
- Cover the patient with a blanket/jacket.
- Time the length and number of seizures.
- Call for the ambulance.
- Contact your local Poison Control Centre.
- DO NOT give the person anything to eat or drink and DO NOT induce vomiting (unless advised by the doctor at the Poison Centre).
Severe Allergic Reactions
- For a minor localised reaction apply an anti-histamine cream.
- For any centralised reaction, including redness or swelling around the neck, swollen eyes, lips or tongue, clearing of the throat, coughing or difficulty breathing call an ambulance immediately.
- Keep the patient calm.
- Begin CPR if the patient becomes unconscious and stops breathing.
- Lie the patient on their side if no suspected spinal injury.
- Call the ambulance.
- Do not leave the person alone. Perform CPR if the patient stops breathing.
- Apply direct pressure with a clean dressing to the wound for at least 5 minutes. Any cuts that are large and deep or you are having difficulty stopping the bleeding must be taken to hospital for further management. You can also elevate an injured limb to help stop the bleeding.
- Bleeding from an artery is life threatening. If the blood is spurting out with every beat of the heart, and the blood is bright red in colour, use your gloved fingers to apply pressure at the wound. Do not release pressure on the wound until advised by a medical professional.
- Some fractures are easy to see (swelling deformity and pain) and should be splinted as below to reduce pain and reduce further damage. Look out for signs of a greenstick fracture. (No obvious swelling or deformity and little pain. Check to see if the injured person limps or protects the injured limb. The symptoms may appear a few hours/days after the initial injury and the person must be taken to hospital).
- DO NOT reposition the fractured limb before splinting.
- Use anything at your disposal to splint the limb (for example – a magazine, rolled up towels or blankets can be secured to the broken limb with a bandage to keep the bone still).
- Call for an ambulance if you can’t move the victim due to a serious fracture or back injury.
Suspected Heart Attack or Stroke
- Call the Ambulance immediately.
- Do not allow the patient to walk around.
- Keep them calm.
- Patients with their own prescribed medication may use it (spray or tablet under the tongue for chest pain) if they are able to administer it themselves.
- Urgent transport is essential as damage to the heart and brain can be limited by rapid appropriate medical care.
- Perform CPR if the patient becomes unconscious and is not breathing or has no normal breathing/gasping.
National Ambulance – 10177
Netcare 911 – 082 911
ER24 – 084 124
Fire Department – 107
Police – 10111
Poison Control Centre (in your area)