Little accidents: what to do

By admin
15 June 2014

Getting hurt is part of growing up, but how do you know when to treat an injury with a folk remedy and when to take your child to a doctor. We talk to an expert about the best treatments for small injuries.

Healthy children are lively and getting hurt is part of growing up. For every ache and pain there’s usually some folk remedy, but if you investigate you’ll find they sometimes do more harm than good. We asked Craig Hartley, chief paramedic of St John ambulance service for advice.

Your daughter gets a splinter in her finger or foot. What should you do?

Splinters must be removed completely because wood can carry bacteria that will cause an infection if a bit of the splinter stays behind.  Using a sterile needle, you should carefully scratch open the skin over the splinter to facilitate its removal. If you don’t scratch open the skin a piece of the splinter may remain under the skin. If the splinter is very deep consult a doctor.

Your sons have a fight and one of them has a bleeding nose. What should you do?

You stop the bleeding only temporarily by pushing a tissue into the nostril. If you make your son lie on his back the blood will flow into his stomach. This can cause an upset stomach and may cause vomiting. If you press on the bridge of the nose you’re putting pressure on the bleeding veins and this will help the blood to clot. Make sure your press the soft part of the nose and tell your son to breathe through his mouth.

One of your children falls off his bicycle and suffers a few scratches. What should you do?

Ordinary soap and water should do the trick. Hydrogen peroxide won’t get dirt out of a  wound and it kills white blood cells in addition to the bacteria, which increases the risk of infection. After washing the wounds, apply a little antibiotic ointment to each and dress the wounds to protect them. If the scratches are deep and you think they need stitches don’t apply ointment; take your child to a doctor immediately.

What to do if it looks as if your daughter is having a fit

There’s no way you can prevent a fit, and if you try to force her mouth open you might hurt her. Get someone to call an ambulance and remove any object she might hit so she doesn’t hurt herself. If you want to move her after the fit turn her gently on her side so that any fluid will run out of her mouth and she won’t choke.

Your son swallows a poisonous substance. What you should do.

Phone your nearest emergency centre, hospital or doctor. Tell them what he has swallowed and how long ago. You should also try to tell them how much he swallowed. It’s untrue that milk will neatralise poison. Making him vomit can be dangerous because if he has swallowed a caustic preparation, such as a drain-pipe cleaner, it could burn his throat when he vomits.

Oil spatters on your daughter while she’s helping you cook and it’s painful. What you should do.

When someone gets burnt the affected tissue dehydrates so it’s important to rehydrate that area as soon as possible. Hold the burnt part under cold, running tap water or hold it in a bowl of ice water for about 20 minutes. As soon as it has cooled, wrap it in a dry, sterile bandage. Don’t apply any ointment or anything fatty as this will cut off the air suppy to the injured part and make it worse. Don’t hold ice against the wound because such intense cold can damage the skin.

Just before bedtime your daughter bumps her head and now has a swelling the size of a chicken egg on her forehead. What do you do?

First of all check te size of her pupils – they should both be the same size. Check if there’s any change in her behaviour. If she’s confused, disoriented, off balance or vomiting repeatedly you must get her to a hospital immediately. Double vision, weakness or convulsions are signs of concussion – so watch her closely, says Craig. If she’s very young continuous screaming can be a bad sign.

Your son chokes on his food. What should you do?

If someone coughs chances are good he can get rid of the food choking him without help. Slapping him on the back can make the food stick even more securely in his throat. The same can happen if you try to pry the food out with your fingers. If he can’t breathe get someone to call an ambulance and try the Heimlich Manoeuvre.

How to do it:

If the victim is an adult, sit or stand behind him. Make a fist with one hand and place it against his stomach with your thumb just above his belly button. Give five hard, upward squeezes against the stomach and see if the food is expelled from the mouth. Repeat until the food is out and he can breathe.

If the victim is a young child (less than a year old), you should kneel and let the child lie face down at an angle over your forearm. Deliver five sharp blows to the back. Turn the child around, holding him between your arm and hand. Check to see if the object has been dislodged. If it’s still stuck give five chest thrusts with two fingers below the nipple line. Check if the object has been dislodged. Continue the treatment until he coughs up the object and can breathe normally.

- Kerri-Ann Roper

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