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First-Aid Basics for Kids

When you’re used to being the one who soothes all the bumps and bruises, it can be difficult to imagine your child taking over the job. But the truth is, basic first aid is a life skill that all kids need to learn. Naturally, they should know to always (always!) get a grown-up if a sibling or friend gets hurt, and they should also know what they can do to help in the meantime. Included in this: Understanding when to call 911. (For more info on how to talk to kids about true medical emergencies, check out “Teaching Your Child How to Use 911” from kidshealth.org.)

We’ve outlined the basic first-aid steps for handling minor injuries below, including a list of what kids need to stock their very own first-aid kit. Review the steps with your child—who knows, you might just have a future doctor on your hands!

What to do about CUTS & SCRAPES
1. Apply gentle pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or tissue.
2. Wash under cool running water when the bleeding stops. If there’s visible dirt, add a little soap and rinse well. Gently pat dry.
3. Unwrap an adhesive bandage and squeeze antibiotic ointment on the pad.
4. Apply the bandage snugly.

What to do about BURNS
1. Cool it! Place the area under cool running water for 10 minutes or apply a cool, wet towel until the pain lessens. (Do not use ice.)
2. If you see a blister, leave it be. (Do not pop it.)
3. Cover it loosely with a bandage.

What to do about BUMPS & BRUISES
1. Wrap an ice pack in a towel, and apply it to the bump for 10 minutes. Use a ziptop bag with ice or even frozen peas!
2. If possible, have the person lie down and raise the injured area above their heart. (Rest it on a pillow.)
3. Reapply the cold pack for 10 minutes every hour or so for 24 hours.

What to Stock in a Kid’s First-Aid Kit
• A box with a lid (a large pencil case or even a shoe box works)
• A list of emergency phone numbers (download our printable label)
• Adhesive bandages in different sizes
• Nonstick gauze pads in two sizes
• Medical tape
• Antibiotic ointment
• Small scissors
• Hand sanitizer (just in case you don’t have quick access to soap and water)

Read “Kids Helping Kids” for more on raising kids who care.