Most accidents happen at home. Do you know what to do in case of an emergency?
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
Being a parent can be scary enough, but throw in a medical emergency into the mix and you could have a reason to panic. You’ve probably already mastered the art of blowing on a scratch or kissing away a booboo, but beyond that, do you have the first aid skills essential for emergencies? Read on to find out what you need to know.
Correctly Treating Diarrhoea
Every child is bound to experience a bout of diarrhoea at some point. According to Dr Kao Pao Tang, head and consultant at Children’s Emergency in the National University Hospital, preventing dehydration is important. Dehydration can be especially serious in very young children and signs to look out for include no tears when crying, sunken eyes, less than five wet diapers daily, dry skin, mouth and tongue, and a sunken soft spot if your child is under 18 months of age.
An oral rehydration solution or salts from the nearest pharmacy will be able to help: “Oral electrolyte solution – a liquid that has exactly the right amount of water, sugar and salts – is so accessible that we rarely recommend anything else,” says Dr Kao.
Besides watching for dehydration, a change in diet is recommended. “It is recommended for the child to maintain a bland diet. This includes avoiding oily foods, spicy foods, acidic juices such as orange juice or foods that contain dairy products such as eggs, milk or butter. Usually, plain toast with some jam, plain crackers or plain porridge is recommended. Also, non-carbonated versions of electrolyte drinks like 100 Plus or Gatorade is preferred,” adds Dr Dr Goh E. Shaun, specialist in Emergency Medicine and consultant at Raffles Hospital.
Dressing a Wound
Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching a child’s wound, advises Dr Sharmila Rengasamy, paediatric registrar at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. First, wash the wound with sterile saline or clean boiled or filtered drinking water, disinfect with an antiseptic such as chlorhexidine solution, and then dress the wound, adds Dr Kao. “Using a dressing will protect the wound from germs. Swimming and baths should be avoided until the wound has healed,” agrees Dr Rengasamy.
Of course, if there is a large loss of blood or is the wound looks infected, it is important to take your child to the doctor.
Shock occurs when a child is severely ill and it is life threatening. “There are many forms of shock. Shock can be from blood loss in trauma (Haemorrhagic shock) or from overwhelming infections (Septic shock). Extreme dehydration or fluid loss from burns can lead to shock as well (Hypovolaemic shock),” says Dr Goh.
“It is when a disease is so overwhelming that it affects the ability of the body to support itself. There is low blood pressure such that it may cause damage to critical organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver or brain,” he adds.
Symptoms are typically, altered consciousness. It is when “the child appears confused or unconscious and limp. Breathing may be laboured, there is almost no production of urine and the skin appears loose,” says the doctor.
Shock is not to be trifled with and you should call 995 immediately. “While waiting for assistance, the child should be kept as warm as possible with a blanket and positioned such that the airway is kept open by tilting the head slightly and gently backwards. If at any time there is a loss of consciousness and the child stops responding or has laboured breathing, then the parent should be prepared to perform CPR until assistance arrives,” says Dr Goh.
Serious burns require immediate medical attention. For minor burns, home treatment will suffice. Dr Rengasamy says that you should take off your child’s clothing immediately (only if not stuck to the skin). Cool the area under running water for at least 20 minutes. Dr Kao adds that following, you should clean and dress the wound.
Burns on the face, fingers or groin; burns that appear white; burns that cover an area larger than five of the victim’s palms and burns with a lot of pain should be seen by a doctor, cautions Dr Kao.
Treating Nose Bleeds
Nosebleeds are common and can be due to – according to Dr Rengasamy – the child picking their nose, blowing too hard, hitting their nose or having a nose infection. According to Dr Kao, most nosebleeds stop on their own without intervention. Have your child lean forward and gently compress the sides of the nose for ten minutes. Repeat for another ten minutes if it doesn’t stop. If bleeding continues, see a doctor.