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First aid tips to teach kids

Editor’s Note: Consider registering your older child or teenager in a licensed first aid program to make sure they have the most accurate and up-to-date knowledge, especially if they are in a position where they may be unsupervised. 

Parents can take every precaution possible to keep their kids safe but accidents happen. It is never too early to start teaching your kids basic first aid skills and what to do in an emergency. If your child gets injured, remain calm and talk them through the steps you are taking while applying ice, bandages, or treating a bug bite. The skills you teach them now will be used for a lifetime. 

Here are some basic first aid tips you can start teaching kids now:


For bumps and bruises

For a typical bruise, explain that when you bump into something it causes bleeding under the skin. Apply an ice pack to the bruise to prevent swelling and reduce pain. Show your child where you keep the ice pack and how to wrap it in a towel so the ice isn’t directly on the skin.

Call for help if your child has a head injury and is acting strangely or if they are experiencing nausea, vomiting, confusion, or vision changes.


For cuts

If your child has a cut, teach them to use a clean cloth to put pressure on it to slow bleeding. When the bleeding has stopped, clean the wound and apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage.


Call for help if the cut is deep, will not stop bleeding, has something stuck in it, or if you can see ligaments or bone.


For sprains and broken bones

Any time there is a suspected broken bone, your kids should ask for help from an adult. Teach them not to touch the injured area and apply ice while waiting for help.


Call for help if the bone is bent, sticking out, or if you cannot move or put weight on the injured area.


For burns

If your child has a mild burn, run it under cool tap water for 15 minutes and repeat as needed. Do not apply ice directly to the wound. If the burn blisters, ask your child to leave it alone as much as possible as this will help with the healing process.


Call for help if the injury is making it difficult to move. If the injury is waxy-looking or bigger than the palm of your hand, it would be best to seek medical attention.


For bug bites and stings

If your child has a bug bite, wash the area and apply ice for swelling and pain. You can also apply calamine lotion to help with itching.


Call for help if your child has an allergic reaction to a sting or bite.


For choking

If someone is choking, remain calm and ask the person questions. If they can answer, they are still able to breathe. If they are coughing, wait and see if they are able to clear the airway on their own. Older children can be taught how to do the stomach thrusts (formerly known as Heimlich maneuver) to help dislodge the item that is choking them. Older children can also be taught how to perform stomach thrust on others.


Call for help if someone is struggling to breathe for a significant amount of time or is not able to cough or speak. 


First aid skill is an important life skill for anyone to have and it is never too early to begin teaching basic skills. You can model what to do in an emergency situation by remaining calm and talking your child through minor injuries. For other emergencies like fire safety and broken bones, you can use role playing to help kids understand what to do. Set a date on your calendar at least once a year to go over first aid, fire safety, and what to do in an emergency. This will help your child remember what they learned and remain calm if they are faced with one of these situations.


Sarah is a mom of six kids, including seven-year-old triplets. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time outdoors with her family.


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