It is Child Safety Week 1 – 7 June 2015 (www.capt.org.uk) so it is a good time to answer a few of the most common worries that parents and child carers often encounter. We asked Roma Felstein from Safe and Sound for her advice.
Accident prevention is not about restricting children or wrapping them up in cotton wool, instead it is about creating safer environments, both in the home and elsewhere, to enable children to thrive and lead a healthy active life.
How do you tell if your child is concussed? If a child bumps its head do you need to keep him awake?
Picture the scene…its 7pm and the kids have had their tea and bath and are now meant to be getting into their pyjamas and ready for bed. Instead they seem to have developed a “second wind” and are jumping around pretending to be Spiderman (or the latest television superhero), when suddenly you hear a loud crash and wail…your 5 year old has jumped off the bed in an attempt to fly (or stick to the wall) and has bumped his head on the bedside table. He has a small red bump on the front of his head and there are lots of tears.
After a cool pack, cuddle, tears wiped and nose blown, it’s way past bedtime and your child is tired…..What to do? Should he sleep or should you keep him awake in case he “goes into a coma”?
After any traumatic experience it is normal for a child to feel sleepy and need to take a little nap, it should be a normal peaceful sleep and they should wake up fully after the sleep.
The problem comes when the accident happens just before bedtime. Yes you can let them sleep. Sleep is good for recovery. If you have any concerns, wake your child up after about an hour or so. They may be grumpy, but that is reassuring and pretty normal. You can then let them go back to sleep.
If you are concerned enough to keep checking on them throughout the night then seek medical help/advice or visit A & E…
Seek medical help quickly if any of the following symptoms occur after a head injury – DIAL 999 or 112 (the Europe wide number for Emergency Services).
- Under 6 months of age
- Unconscious, even briefly
- Crying for longer than 10 minutes or prolonged irritability
- Vomiting repeatedly
- Confusion, strange behaviour, and any problems with understanding or speaking.
- Anything that you would deem to be “not normal behaviour” for your child.
- Inability to remember events before or after the head injury.
- Severe, worsening headache
- Seizures (fits/ convulsions)
- Dizziness, loss of balance or walking strangely.
- Any visual problems, such as blurring of vision or double vision.
- Blood or clear fluid leaking from the nose or ear.
- Great force of injury (car accident, long fall, cricket bat etc.)
- Worsening symptoms or symptoms improve and then worsen
What’s the reasoning behind the tale of “Not letting someone go to sleep after a bump to the head”?
The thought was that if you kept someone awake you would be able to prevent them from going into a coma, which of course does not work.
The reasoning behind the “stay with me” and constant rousing of a patient (like in the movies) stems from the medic determining the patients ability to stay conscious.
The other reason for constant monitoring of a patient with a head injury in hospital is that if anything worsens it will be dealt with straight away (CT scan, surgery etc.). Whereas if you left someone unmonitored they could deteriorate during the night and go into a coma.
Every day around 15 young children are admitted into hospital because it’s thought they’ve swallowed something poisonous. Toddlers love to explore and will copy what you do. This means they are more at risk from poisoning than any other age group. One of the most common ways children can be poisoned is by swallowing medicines – like everyday pain killers that we might carry in our handbags or in the bedside cabinet.
A few prevention tips:
- Keep your medicines and cleaning things locked up or out of reach and sight, ideally in a high, lockable cupboard. It’s best to keep them in a room which people use a lot. That means if your child has climbed up on a chair or worktop and is exploring in cupboards they are more likely to be seen by an adult or brother or sister.
- ‘Child resistant’ caps are not ‘child-proof‘. Some 3-4 year olds can open them in seconds, so make sure they’re locked away too.
- Toddlers like to copy what you do. Try to take your medicine when your toddler isn’t watching.
- Avoid pretending your child’s medicine is a sweet, even if it’s hard to get them to take it. It can be confusing for your toddler.
- When you’re visiting friends or relatives, take a few moments to look out for medicines or cleaning products lying around, like on Granny’s bedside table, so you’re not taken by surprise.
- Even small amounts of alcohol can be harmful to small children, so clear up any glasses with alcohol dregs left in them.
- Remember to be careful with aromatherapy oils, perfumes and cigarettes too as they can all be harmful to small children.
- Your child may easily be confused by colorful medicines that look like sweets. Keep them locked safely away and in the original bottles.
- Do the same with cleaning products, DIY or garden chemicals, whether they are kept in the house or the garden shed.
- Plants in the garden can be confusing too. Teach your child not to eat anything. If you do suspect they have eaten a poisonous plant then take a sample of the plant with you to A & E.
If your child has been poisoned never make them vomit as this may put their airway in danger. And do not shout at your child – I know it is scary but if they have taken something they won’t tell you what it is if they feel threatened.
Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in children.
Children are fascinated by water. But it is imperative that young children are supervised at all times around water and if you have a pond or water feature in your garden it may be sensible to remove it until the children are older. It’s scary to realize that children can drown in even the shallowest of water. From a young child’s perspective, a 50 cm deep pond is equivalent to an adult falling into 180 cm of water as the toddler is unable to climb out of the water and in some cases if they fall face down into a bucket or pond they cannot turn themselves over. It is not usually until the age of four or five that children begin to understand the concept of dange, and begin to heed warnings given to them.
Check the garden regularly. Containers holding rainwater should be emptied or sealed to stop children getting into them. Turn paddling pools upside down after use. Fill in ponds, especially if you have children under 6 – they can be used as sand pits instead. If you do have a pond or swimming pool in the garden visit www.capt.org.uk or www.rospa.com/leisuresafety/water/index.htm for details of how to make them safe.
A child who drowns doesn’t usually breathe in large amounts of water. The child will usually swallow large amounts of water, which might then be vomited as they are rescued or resuscitation takes place.
- Do not put yourself at risk – you cannot help your child if you become a victim
- If possible keep the child horizontal during rescue
- Check airway and breathing. Resuscitate if necessary
- Dial 999/112 for emergency help
ALWAYS call 999/112 for emergency help, even if the child appears to recover. Just a tiny amount of water in the lungs can cause a delayed reaction of sudden, severe difficulty in breathing. This is called ‘secondary drowning’.
The above is not a substitute for professional first aid training. For details of paediatric first aid courses in your area please call Safe and Sound on 0208 445 8998 or go to www.safeandsound.uk.net