6 basic first aid skills every child should know

6 basic first aid skills every child should know

Life-threatening accident or illness emergencies are unpredictable, and could easily happen to someone alone with a child – which is why it’s vital children know some basic first aid.

Research commissioned by the British Red Cross ahead of World First Aid Day (September 14) found almost a quarter of children (23%) have experienced a situation where someone needed first aid, but the over half (62%) said they’d feel “helpless” to act if they witnessed an accident and someone was injured.

Nine out of 10 agreed knowing first aid skills would make them feel more confident to help in an emergency. While a separate study by the charity found up to 59% of deaths from injuries could be prevented if first aid had been given before medical services arrived.

From September next year, after 10 years of campaigning by British Red Cross, first aid will become a compulsory part of the curriculum, although some schools are trialling it this year.

Joe Mulligan, head of first aid education at the charity, says: “The launch of first aid on the school curriculum in England celebrates a landmark commitment by the Government to create a future generation of lifesavers. These aren’t just skills that young people will be able to use now, but will take with them into adulthood. We need to build strong communities who know to help in a crisis, and we are now a step closer to achieving this.”

Here are some key lifesaving skills children should know.

1. How to call 999

With younger children, parents should explain when they should call 999, stressing it’s especially important if an adult isn’t awake. Make sure they know how to use the phone properly, and that they know their address and postcode and understand they’ll need to answer the call handler’s questions as clearly as possible.

2. How to help someone who’s unresponsive and not breathing

If someone isn’t moving and doesn’t respond when you call them or gently shake their shoulders, check if they’re breathing by tilting their head back and looking and feeling for breaths. If they’re not breathing, call 999 as soon as possible, or get someone else to do it. Give chest compressions by pushing firmly downwards in the middle of their chest and then releasing. Keep pushing firmly at a regular rate until help arrives.

Children from Ark Oval Primary Academy school, south London, in a first aid lesson (David Parry/PA)
Children from Ark Oval Primary Academy school, south London, in a first aid lesson (David Parry/PA)

3. How to help someone who’s unresponsive and breathing

If someone’s unresponsive and breathing, move them onto their side and tilt their head back. This will help keep their airway open. Call 999 as soon as possible.

4. How to help someone who’s bleeding heavily

Put pressure on the wound with whatever’s available to stop or slow down the flow of blood. Call 999 as soon as possible, or get someone else to do it. Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.

5. How to help someone with a head injury

A blow to the head may result in someone having pain or a headache. There may be a bump on their head and they may look pale. Ask them to rest and apply something cold to the injury – for example frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel – to reduce external swelling and pain. Call 999 if they become drowsy, vomit or their condition gets worse, as this could be a sign of a serious head injury.

Children from Ark Oval Primary Academy in a first aid skills lesson outside the Houses of Parliament (David Parry/PA)
Children from Ark Oval Primary Academy in a first aid skills lesson outside the Houses of Parliament (David Parry/PA)

6. How to help someone who’s choking

Someone who’s choking may be clutching at their chest or neck and won’t be able to speak, breathe or cough. Hit them firmly on their back between their shoulder blades. This will help to dislodge the blockage. Call 999 if necessary.

- Press Association

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