Child Safety - First Aid

  The information here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice and treatment or for formal First Aid and life support training

Please note that First Aid is just that - the first care that an injured person receives. First Aid is not intended to replace medical care. 

First Aid Kit

  • Have a well stocked first aid box in your home.
  • Make sure it is out of reach and sight of children.
  • Do not store medication in your first aid kit - all medication should be stored in its original packaging and in a locked cupboard.
  • Your kit should contain:
    • Scissors
    • Tweezers – for removal of thorns & splinters.  Never use tweezers to remove objects from nose, mouth or ears – seek medical attention.
    • Digital or electronic thermometer.  Mercury thermometers should not be used because mercury vapour can be poisonous if the thermometer breaks.  Remove any mercury thermometers from your home to prevent accidental exposure and poisoning.
    • Disposable gloves
    • Plasters - various sizes
    • Safety pins
    • Bandages – a selection of sizes
    • Sling
    • Tape
    • Absorbent Pads
    • Antiseptic or antiseptic wipes
    • A list of emergency phone numbers
  • For instances where you cannot get access to clean water it may be useful to include the following items in your first aid kit:
    • Sterile water, in sealed disposable containers, for wound cleaning.
    • Burn gels/hydrogels – there is often confusion as to whether these should be used.  Current evidence shows that treatment for 20 minutes under cool running water is the best first aid treatment for burns and scalds.  Hydrogels may provide analgesia (pain relief) until cool, running water can be applied to the injury.
    • Hand sanitiser
  • Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after you give first aid. If you do not have access to running water, hand sanitiser is a good option.
  • If you have a first aid kit in your car, or you use one for camping or hiking, make sure it is stored where your children cannot get at it.  

Burns and scalds

  • Burns and scalds above the neck could affect breathing or vision.
  • If the burn or scald is above the neck, call for an ambulance and apply recommended first aid while waiting for the ambulance to attend.
  • If other areas are affected, still plan to seek medical attention for your child, but it is safe and a good idea to take a few minutes to apply basic first aid at home:
    • Cool the burned or scalded area immediately - run cool water over it for 20 minutes. This is so important - it will help with pain and can reduce the risk of scarring and need for surgery.  
    • Never use ice.
    • If you cannot apply cool, running water to the injury immediately, do so as soon as is possible – it will still help up to 3 hours after the injury happened.  
    • Burn gels/hydrogels - there is often confusion as to whether these should be used.  Current evidence shows that treatment for 20 minutes under cool running water is the best first aid treatment for burns and scalds.  Burn gels/hydrogels may provide analgesia (pain relief) until cool, running water can be applied to the injury. 
    • Only treat the burn with cool water – keep the rest of the patient warm, if possible.
    • If possible, remove clothes, nappies or jewellery as burnt skin can swell. But do not remove anything which has become stuck to the skin.  If a piece of clothing is stuck to skin do not remove it, cut around it.
    • Do not place any ice, fats, ointments or creams on the burn.  Greasy substances will just keep the heat in and cause further damage.
    • Do not place adhesive (sticky) dressings or plasters on the burn.
    • Do not pop any blisters at home - blisters are the body's way of preventing skin infection.
    • If the injury is likely to rub against objects, you may wish to lightly cover the wound - use a clean non-fluffy cloth or clean cling film (kitchen film).  A clean plastic bag may also be used if the burn is on the hand.  But remember, do not wrap anything tightly around the wound.
    • Get professional medical attention if:
      • an infant or small child has been burned/scalded or
      • the burnt area is larger than a €2 coin or
      • the burn is on the face, hands or genitalia or
      • the injured person appears unwell or distressed
      • Attention should also be sought for any burns which appear white or chalky, with decreased pain sensation (deep burns) or if there is evidence of an inhalation injury (e.g. soot or smoke residue around nose or mouth).
      • Remember, in an emergency, don't delay, dial 999 or 112 (emergency services).

Cuts and bleeding

  • Wash your hands.
  • Clean the cut - use cool running water.
  • Check the wound to see if there is anything stuck in it.
  • Stop the bleeding:
    • if there is nothing in the wound, apply light pressure with a clean cloth or pad until bleeding stops.
    • if there is an object in the wound, do not press on it - press either side instead.
  • Cover the cut using a clean, non-fluffy dressing.
  • Get medical advice if:
    • You are worried
    • An object is stuck in the wound
    • The cut is bleeding heavily
    • The cut was caused by a bite
    • The cut becomes infected
    • The cut fails to heal
    • Your child has not been completely vaccinated against tetanus

Nose bleeds

  • If your child has a nose bleed, get them to sit down, tilt their head forwards and pinch the end of their nose for 10 minutes. 
  • After 10 minutes, check their nose.  If still bleeding, pinch for another 10 minutes.
  • Get medical advice if the nose continues to bleed.

Poisoning

If you think your child has been poisoned:

  • Stay calm and act quickly.
  • Take the poison away from your child.
  • If the poison was eaten, make your child spit it out and run your fingers around the mouth to flick out remaining pieces. 
  • Never make your child vomit.
  • If chemical splashed into the eye, wash with tap water for 15 minutes.
  • Wash any skin in contact with the poison using soap and water.
  • Do not give anything to eat or drink unless directed to do so by healthcare staff.
  • Get medical advice: 
    • Phone the Poisons Information Line on 01 809 2166 (8 a.m. – 10 p.m.).  Outside these hours contact a doctor or hospital.
    • In an emergency, phone 112 or 999.
    • Always take the product container with you to the telephone, doctor or hospital.

If your baby under 1 year is choking

Find out how to save a choking baby - watch these videos from St John Ambulance - The Chokeables (pen lid, marble, princess and jelly baby have had enough of being a hazard and they are here to show you the correct technique to save a choking baby) and Baby Choking First Aid for Parents.

  • If you can see the object that is causing your baby to choke, try to remove it with your fingers.
  • There is no need to intervene if your baby is coughing effectively - simply encourage them to cough.
  • If your baby is unable to cry, to talk or to cough, check that they are conscious.
  • if not conscious, phone 999 or 112 immediately and follow the advice given by the person who answers your call.
  • If your baby is conscious but they are not coughing or not coughing effectively, you will need to deliver first aid:

Sit down and hold baby face down on your knee, supporting the head, jaw and neck.  Their head should be lower than their body.Choking Infant 1

Give 5 back blows using the heel of your hand between the baby's shoulders.

 Choking InfantTurn the baby face up along your thighs.

Give 5 chest thrusts by finding the baby's breastbone, placing two fingers in the middle and pushing sharply on the chest.

Keep doing 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until the object pops out and the baby begins to breathe again.

Get medical help after the object has come out in case part of it remains or your baby has been injured in the process.

If the baby becomes unresponsive, call for help and send someone to dial 999 or 112.

Stay on the phone and listen carefully for advice:

  • You must begin CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) - the Ambulance Call Taker will guide you.

  • If during CPR you see the object, remove it with your fingers but do not place your fingers in the infant's mouth if you cannot see the object.

Ref: American Heart Association 2010

If your child over 1 year old is choking

Have a look at this video from St John Ambulance - Choking Adults and Children - First Aid advice

  • If you can see the object that is causing your child to choke, try to remove it with your fingers.
  • There is no need to intervene if your child is coughing effectively - simply encourage them to cough.
  • Ask the child - "Are you choking? Can you breath?"
  • If your child is unable to cry, to talk or to cough, check that they are conscious.
  • If not conscious, phone 999 or 112 immediately and follow the advice given by the person who answers your call.
  • If your child is conscious but they are not coughing or not coughing effectively, you will need to deliver first aid:

Stand behind the child and support them in a forward-leaning position.

Give up to 5 blows to the back between the shoulder blades.

If this does not dislodge the object, stand or kneel behind the child.Choking Child

Give 5 abdominal thrusts:  clench your fist and place it between the naval and the ribs.  Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply upwards and inwards. Do not apply pressure to the ribs as this may cause damage.

Keep doing 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until the object pops out and the child begins to breathe again.

Get medical help after the object has come out in case part of it remains or your child has been injured in the process.

If the child becomes unresponsive, gently lower the child to the floor.

Call for help and send someone to dial 999 or 112.

Stay on the phone and listen carefully for advice:

  • You must begin CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) - the Ambulance Call Taker will guide you.
  • If during CPR you see the object, remove it with your fingers but do not place your fingers in the child's mouth if you cannot see the object.

Ref: PHECC 2012

First Aid and CPR Training

Consider doing a first aid course. For more information contact:First Aid Skills

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR);  mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions:

CPR training will include steps for what to do if an adult or child stops breathing, is choking or whose heart has stopped pumping effectively.

CPR courses are provided and certified by the Irish Heart Foundation (Heartsaver CPR)  and the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) – Cardiac First Response programme.  These organisations certify various training bodies to provide quality training in CPR for infants, children and adults.

Further information is available from:

The Irish Red Cross has produced an app which features easy to follow tips for more than 20 common scenarios including how to treat burns, breaks, strains and sprains and what to do if an infant is choking.  It also features advice on how to prepare for emergency situations including floods, fires and water safety.  Find out more at www.redcross.ie

Blue light services - Garda Síochána, ambulance, fire service and Irish Coast Guard - and your Eircode

In an emergency the "blue light" services - Garda Síochána, ambulance, fire and Irish Coast Guard - can be contacted by phoning 112 or 999 (www.112.ie).

Emergency - 112 or 999Do you know your Eircode?  The National Emergency Operations Centre within the National Ambulance Service uses Eircodes to send out ambulances.  Make a note of your Eircode and put it somewhere visible in case it is needed in an emergency situation.  Information about Eircodes can be found at www.eircode.ie.

Can you give good directions to your home?  Make a list of easy to follow directions to your location and put them in a visible place.  Remember, in an emergency it can be difficult to think clearly - so take the thinking out of it by preparing your directions in advance.  Remember - time is precious in an emergency situation.


When to call an ambulance:

You should always call 112 or 999 in a life-threatening emergency, if someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk. Examples of medical emergencies include (but are not limited to):

  • chest pain
  • difficulty in breathing
  • unconsciousnessTake to hospital
  • severe loss of blood
  • severe burns or scalds
  • choking 
  • fitting or concussion
  • drowning
  • severe allergic reactions

NOTE:  If you require the ambulance service in an emergency, call 999 or 112 as this will allow the Emergency Call Taker within the National Emergency Operations Centre to guide you and explain to you what you should do using step-by-step approach until the ambulance arrives to you.

If it is not a life-threatening emergency and you, or the person you are with, do not need immediate medical attention, consider other options before you dial 999 or 112:

  • Look after yourself or the patient at home. If you cannot stay at home, see if family or friends are able to help.
  • Talk to your local pharmacist.
  • Visit or call your GP.
  • Make your own way to your hospital emergency department

Choose the best treatment for your needs. It allows the ambulance service to help the people who need them the most.

Click here to find out more about the ambulance service.

Most unintentional injuries (often called accidents) can be prevented:

Remember the key message where child safety is concerned -
Watch your child at all times, as children do not understand danger

Go to: