Children can be prone to injuries (accidents) in the home. Most aren't serious, but it is worth keeping a first aid kit. This will help you deal with minor injuries.
Your first aid box should be waterproof and easy to carry. You should keep it locked and store it out of the reach of children.
If someone else is caring for your children, let them know where you keep the kit. Many people also keep a small first aid kit in their car for emergencies.
Don't store medication in kit
Don't store medication in your first aid kit. This is because a child might take medication from it. It could happen while you are attending to another child who is injured. Keep all medication in a locked cupboard.
Wash your hands properly before and after giving first aid.
Check use-by dates
Remember to keep your first aid kit up to date. Replace used items and check use-by dates of all medicines. Throw away anything past its use-by date.
First aid manual
An easy-to-use guide can help refresh your memory when panic and a crying child make it hard to remember what to do. You could print out this HSE child safety first aid guide and keep it with your first aid box.
Emergency phone numbers list
Put a list of emergency phone numbers into the kit.
The numbers should include:
- 112 and 999
- your home's Eircode
- your nearest hospital emergency department that sees children
- your GP
- your local GP Out of Hours Service
- Plasters - buy them in a variety of sizes for minor cuts, blisters and sore spots.
- Adhesive tape - this can hold dressings in place. You can also apply it to smaller cuts.
- Bandages - crepe bandages are useful for support or holding a dressing in place. Tubular bandages are helpful when a child has strained a joint and needs extra support. You can also buy triangular bandages that you can use for making a sling.
- Sterile gauze dressings - these are good for covering larger sore areas and cuts.
- Scissors for cutting clothes, and also plasters and tape to size.
- Safety pins - these are used to secure an arm sling in place around the elbow area.
You use tweezers to remove thorns, splinters and ticks. Never use tweezers to remove objects from nose, mouth or ears – seek medical attention.
Remember to wash your hands before and after you give first aid. If you do not have access to water, hand sanitiser is a good option.
Gloves can protect you from infection when giving first aid. They also protect the injured person if they have open wounds or are bleeding.
You should ideally use sterile-type gloves when dealing with open wounds.
Non-sterile gloves can be used if you need to protect yourself only. For example, when cleaning up blood spills, or dealing with poo and vomit.
Antiseptic cream or spray
Antiseptic cream or spray can be applied to cuts or grazes after cleaning. This will help prevent infection. Some may also help to numb pain.
The best first aid treatment for burns is placing it under cool running water for 20 minutes. Burn gels or hydrogels should only be used if you are not near cool running water. Cool running water should then be applied when it is available.
Antiseptic wipes are a handy way to clean cuts and grazes and help prevent infection. To use them, take a fresh wipe and clean the wound. Work gently away from the centre to remove dirt and germs.
Use absorbent pads to lightly apply pressure to a wound that is bleeding. Do this until the bleeding stops. Make sure there is no object stuck in the wound first.
Use a digital or electronic thermometer. These are quick and accurate. You can also use them under the armpit. Always place the thermometer under the armpit for children under 5.
Avoid using mercury thermometers. If a mercury thermometer breaks, it can be poisonous.
Saline solution and eye bath
This is useful for washing specks of dust or loose particles out of sore eyes.
For your fridge and freezer
Ice packs, or a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel, can be used for minor head injuries. They can be used for short periods of time regularly for the first few days. They can help to bring down any swelling.
For when you're out and about
If you are away from home, you might not be able to access clean water.
The following items may be useful to include in your first aid kit:
- Burn gel
- Sterile water, in a sealed disposable container, for wound cleaning
- Hand sanitiser