Child Safety: First Aid Guide for Moms

Critical first-aid moves that can save your child during an emergency.
Knowing how to respond during an emergency can save your child -- and spare you a lot of panic. "It is essential that the caregiver know how to perform basic pediatric first aid procedures," agrees Catherine Robertson, author of Safety, Nutrition, and Health in Early Education. Can you handle when accident strikes? Check out this first-aid guide for a refresher, then take our Child First-aid quiz at the end.


Burns can be classified into first-, second- and third-degree burns: First-degree burns are mild burns that are caused by brief contact with heat, and can cause redness, pain and some welling; second-degree burns are more severe and usually results in blisters; while third-degree burns are the most serious, and may be painless due to nerve damage.

What to do: Run cool tap water over the burn until the pain lessens. Remove any wet clothing from the burned areas, except clothing stuck to the skin. Apply a light, dry, clean cloth dressing over the wound. Never put any medicine or ice on the wound, or run very cold water onto the scalded areas, as these can cause further tissue damage.

Milder burns can be treated at home, but the more serious ones require emergency medical care. Take your child to the nearest hospital if:

  • It's a second- or third-degree burn
  • The burn came from a fire, electrical source (socket or wire), or chemicals
  • The burned area is large
  • The burn is on the face, scalp, hands or genitals
  • The burn looks infected (swelling, pus, redness)

  • Choking

    In most cases of choking, the airway is only partially obstructed, and it's likely the food or object will be coughed up.

    What to do: Check that the child is breathing. If he's choking and coughing, but can still breathe and talk, the airway is not completely blocked and he will likely cough up the object on his own. Don't slap your child's back, dig into his mouth or feed him food or beverage, as these can all force the object further down his throat, blocking the airway.

    Sometimes, however, when an object completely blocks the airway, depriving the lungs and brain of oxygen, it can become a life-threatening emergency. A choking child needs help right away if he:

  • Is unable to breathe
  • Is unable to talk or cry
  • Is gasping or wheezing
  • Turns blue

  • What to do: Call for an ambulance immediately. If you know how, apply the Heimlich maneuver, which works by forcing sudden bursts of air upward through the airway from the diaphragm to dislodge the foreign object. If the child is unconscious, perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), if you've been trained in it.

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