Mom’s duties are quite extensive. On most days, you are the chef, housekeeper, and chauffeur, while on some other days you are the counselor, tutor, and the “errand girl”. But nothing prepares you for those days when you have to play the role of an EMT ( Emergency medical technician).
Being responsible for another human is a daunting task in every respect. Accidents and emergencies are bound to happen, and more often than not, they occur without prior warning. You just might have turned your back for a split second and the next minute, you have a bleeding or injured child to deal with. Your first natural reaction is to panic, but that wouldn’t do much to defuse the potentially fatal situation.
So what do you do in the face of life-threatening child emergencies? Do you adopt the “fight or flight” response or switch on the “panic mode”?. Let us walk you through the best ways to handle such emergencies and get your child out of the dangerous territory.
HOW TO HANDLE MEDICAL CHILD EMERGENCIES
Child health emergencies are usually minor cases, but sometimes it can manifest as a huge and fatally dangerous problem. In such cases, it is imperative that you know the right steps to take in helping your child without aggravating the situation.
You don’t have to be medically trained to respond to these emergencies, but there are some basic things that you can do before medical help comes your way. On a sidebar, it is important to learn basic first aid skills to prepare you against all emergency situations. Here are a few possible medical child emergencies you may encounter and how you can handle them before getting to E. R (Emergency room).
YOUR CHILD FALLS AND HIT THEIR HEAD
Your first point of call is to check for signs of concussion. These include fainting(could be for a very brief period), confusion, splitting headache, vomiting, drowsiness, and difficulty in walking. If some of these signs or all of these signs are present, call 911 immediately. Check your child’s neck to see if it is hurt, and check the arms for tingling or any weakness. Make sure to keep your child still and try to soothe him/her.
If your child has passed out and isn’t responding to any effort to stir him awake, Call 911 immediately or a child emergency hospital near you. When calling 911, take deep calming breaths and make sure to give concise details and follow up on the instructions that the operator may give you. If you don’t know any child emergency hospital that is close to you, you can simply key in these words on Google “child emergency hospital near me” and you are sure to find one.
If your child has a splitting headache, vomiting continuously, being clumsy, or exhibits drowsiness than usual, then take him to a hospital emergency room immediately. You could also consult your doctor for medical advice before taking him to the ER.
In cases of perceived concussion or any head injury, do not give your child ibuprofen because of the increased risk of internal bleeding (if a brain injury is already present). There is no way you can tell if the fall caused a brain injury without an expert medical assessment, so it is best to be on the safe side by refraining from ibuprofen administration.
YOUR CHILD IS CHOKING
A choking child is a scary and nerve-wracking sight for any mother. You will without a single doubt panic and think the worst, but you will need to maintain a sense of calm to handle the situation. Take deep relaxing breaths to calm your racing heart, and start talking to your child.
If your child can produce vocal sounds in response to your words, then her airway is clear but if she fails to respond, she is having difficulty breathing and is possibly clutching at her throat and looks like she wants to faint, call 911 immediately and activate your phone’s speaker mode. Then proceed to do what is called the “Heimlich maneuver” also called abdominal thrusts. This procedure helps to lift your child’s diaphragm and releases air from the lungs, which causes the foreign object or whatever your child might have accidentally choked on to be removed from her airway. You can perform this technique on a child aged 1 to 12 years. The steps are detailed below :
If your child isn’t breathing:
- Lay her on her back on a flat and hard surface, such as a table, the floor or ground.
- If you can’t see what your child has choked on through a throat examination, and if your child is not showing any visible signs of breathing, place your mouth over hers, pinch her nose to shut it, and blow two breaths into her mouth. The breaths should last 2 seconds each.
- Then start the Heimlich maneuver by kneeling at her feet, place the heel of one of your hands in between her navel and upper body, place your other hand atop the first one, and begin to thrust inward and upward with gentle but firm pressure. Thrust rapidly for about 6-10 times.
- If you can tell your child has no pulse, begin CPR immediately, because her heart might have stopped beating. Continue CPR until she starts breathing or until child emergency help
If your child is still breathing :
- Get your child into an upright position and bend her forward while holding her with one hand by the waist.
- Use the heel of your free hand to give her 5 back blows between her shoulder blades.
- If she still doesn’t cough out or throws up the object, lay her down and make a fist with your two hands and place them above her belly button.
- Begin to thrust rapidly inwards and upwards 5 times.
- Alternate between 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until the foreign object is dislodged or until help arrives. Also, stop doing this when the child becomes unconscious
A note of caution: Do not attempt to put your hands down your child’s throat in an attempt to dislodge the object. This might propel the object further down the throat and obstruct the airway completely.
ALSO READ: Motherhood- the self-imposed mental illness
YOUR CHILD INGESTED POISON
Poisoning is a serious and fatal child emergency that requires prompt handling and immediate medical attention. Signs of poisoning may differ but common symptoms include breathing difficulties, oral cavity burns, unusual drowsiness, and vomiting.
If you are certain your child has consumed a poisonous substance and he/she is slipping into unconsciousness, call 911 immediately or the poison control center of your region. You can also take him or her to the nearest hospital if the commute is a very short distance. If you know what your child ingested and have the container or bottle at hand, be sure to share this information with the medical experts.
YOUR CHILD HAS A THIRD DEGREE BURN
Burns are classified into three based on severity; first, second, and third-degree burns. The first two are mild to moderate and can be treated at home. But the third is the most severe and requires urgent medical attention. You can identify what type of burn your child has by looking at their skin. First degree burns usually appear as red skin patches and may not form any blisters.
Second-degree burns may form blisters in addition to skin reddening and swelling. Third-degree burns appear as white or black charred skin. In the case of the first two, you can simply place the affected skin under cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes to ease the pain and hinder inflammation. You can then apply an ointment, preferably an antibiotic ointment to soothe the irritated skin.
If you perceive that your child is still in pain, give him/her a painkiller suitable to his/her age to help with the pain. When blisters appear, do not tamper with it and allow it to pop on its own. This is because the blister serves as a protective barrier against infection. Once it is has popped, you can apply an ointment and a bandage to the affected skin.
In the case of a severe burn (third-degree burn) where the skin appears white or black, wet, bruised, splotchy, or waxy, you should head for the E. R with immediate urgency. This also applies to chemical burns from bleach and other corrosive agents. You should also take your child to the hospital If the burn affects a large portion of the skin, or if it affects the genitals, face, ears, or feet.
Note of caution: Do not apply butter, oils, ice, sprays or toothpaste to your child’s burn
YOUR CHILD EXPERIENCES SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTIONS
It is not uncommon for children to develop allergies to certain foods or environmental conditions. The classic signs of allergic reactions include hives, swollen face or lips, breathing and coughing difficulties, vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea.
The moment your child has been exposed to an allergen and he begins to show signs of allergic reactions, administer an epinephrine injector if available. In the absence of that, take your child to the E. R immediately or call 911. If the allergic reaction is fatal, such that it interferes with his breathing or causes him to pass out, call 911 without hesitation.
YOUR CHILD HAS A SEIZURE
The sudden jerking movements or stiffening of the arms and legs is a huge sign that says “your child is having a seizure and you need to act fast”. You should be more alarmed when your child doesn’t respond to you while in that state.
Your child may stare blankly at you or his eyes may roll. First things first, turn him on his side and take note of the seizure time. Most seizures last for about two to five minutes. Call 911 immediately if this is his first time experiencing a seizure if he is having difficulty breathing or beginning to turn blue, if he has a seizure disorder, and if the seizure lasts longer than it should. Seizures are common pediatric emergency cases, and getting him to the hospital in record time is the best thing to do.
YOUR CHILD HAS AN EYE INJURY
It is fairly common for children to accidentally get “stuff” into their eyes and a good eye rinse usually does the trick. But sometimes, a child’s eye injury may require more than a rinse. If your child continues to wail and cry even after a good rinse, if there is visible damage to the eyes, if he is having breathing difficulty, or passes out, then this is your cue to dial 911.
If it is an obvious eye trauma, do not attempt to force the eye open or flush it with water, you may make things worse by doing so. So simply call 911 and wait for help to arrive or get your child to the E. R immediately.
YOUR CHILD HAS A BROKEN BONE
The signs of a broken bone are not hard to miss. In most cases of a broken bone, the bone will jutt out or take on a crooked form. A broken bone usually follows an injury and your child will cry you a river from excruciating pain and discomfort.
Try to make her comfortable and try not to move the affected limb. Call 911 and explain that the bone is sticking out from your child’s flesh or it is crooked. In some cases, a broken bone may not present such obvious signs. Swelling on the site of injury, vomiting, and lightheadedness after an injury may indicate a broken bone. In this case, get your child to E. R as soon as possible or call 911 for help.
HOW TO HANDLE BABY EMERGENCIES
Babies and toddlers have a knack for getting into “trouble”. They are adventurous and are always willing to try out new things without care for anyone’s opinion. That’s to be expected because babies can’t think for themselves nor discern between what is safe or harmful.
So it boils down to the mum to look out for them and make sure they are not getting into any mischief that will result in a 911 call or a visit to the E. R. But moms can’t play “detective” round the clock. Sometimes these little cute things can slip out of your watching gaze and careful supervision, and before you can say, Jack Robinson, you have a fatal baby situation in your hands. Here’s how to deal with some of these possible baby emergencies that may catch you off guard.
Your little one eats something harmful
No one goes on tasting adventures like toddlers. They are always reaching out for things and stuffing them in their mouth. Toddlers can’t communicate properly but you will likely know if your baby has ingested something dangerous because apparently, they don’t clean up after themselves and you are bound to find evidence of the remnants of whatever they have ingested, say perhaps some cosmetic or cleaning agent.
When this happens, call your city’s poison control center and give them details of what they’ve ingested including a full list of the ingredients if it is a packaged product. You can also call 911 in the absence of a poison control center, especially if he begins to exhibit worrisome symptoms. Don’t give your baby anything else to eat until you consult a poison expert or until the doctor gives the go-ahead.
Your baby has a diaper accident
Most mums can tell you that changing a baby’s diaper can be a struggle on some days, not with them rolling and tossing about or blatantly refusing to cooperate by throwing furious kicks and performing other baby theatrics. And sometimes your baby can roll off the changing table and fall.
Most times, the fall is relatively non-fatal but it can be fatal in some cases. Once your baby falls, check for injuries and call your doctor. Even if there aren’t any obvious signs of injury, you should still pay your pediatrician a visit. But if your baby becomes unconscious after the fall, call 911 immediately.
Your baby chokes on something
In their quest for tasting adventures, your baby might eat a piece of food or an object that can obstruct her airway. If your baby happens to be choking. Perform the Heimlich maneuver by turning her on her back and give her five back blows between her shoulder blades.
Call 911 while you are it. If she’s still not breathing after the back blows, turn her over and give her five quick chest thrusts using your index and middle fingers. Alternate between back blows and chest thrusts until the food or object is forced out or until medical help arrives.
Now, this is very fatal!!! A button battery can severely burn the esophagus within two hours if not ejected. In very severe cases, it can lead to death. Button batteries are commonly found in household gadgets and items such as remotes, portable video games, reading light, watches, thermometers, bathroom scales and hearing aids.
Once you suspect your little one has swallowed a button battery, call 911 immediately or get him to the E. R. An X-ray will be performed to see if the battery is lodged within the esophagus. If it happens to be, it must be removed within two hours to avoid serious complications.
An endoscope is usually used to remove the battery. If the battery has already passed the esophagus and is lodged in the small intestine, it is usually allowed to pass naturally through the intestinal tract (this is the better news). However, the baby’s stool has to be carefully examined for a few days. Some symptoms of button battery ingestion include fever, drool, and cough.
HOW TO HANDLE CHILD BEHAVIORAL EMERGENCY
While child medical emergencies are not uncommon, child behavioral emergency on the other hand is not an everyday occurrence. Moms can tell when their kids are physically unwell and when to call an ambulance for a child or take them into ER, but recognizing mental instabilities in children may take more than a discerning eye.
A child behavioral emergency can even be more fatal than a medical emergency. It is defined as a life-threatening psychologically oriented situation that demands immediate medical attention. Some examples of this type of emergency include :
- Your child overdosing on drugs or harmful substances
- When your child attempts to commit suicide
- When your child tries to self-harm by cutting themselves, making online suicide insinuations, writing a suicide note, purchasing weapons intended for suicide, and making a will.
- Aggressive behavioral changes towards others, such as verbal threats of committing murder, online insinuations about murder and homicide, committing arson, and threatening others with physical violence.
- Exhibiting symptoms of hallucination and paranoia.
All of these scenarios require urgent medical aid. Get in touch with a mental health therapist or care provider to begin therapy once the signs of mental instability begin to manifest. If your child is in immediate danger, such as cases of overdosing or self-harm, call 911 immediately or rush them to the E. R. If the child is violent, try to restrain them before help arrives.
HOW TO HANDLE A CHILD ABDUCTION EMERGENCY
A child abduction emergency is an ultimate nightmare for any parent. No one wants to have their kid kidnapped or reported missing, but sometimes life happens. When your child suddenly goes missing, report to security officials immediately and provide all details that may aid the investigation.
Get in touch with the appropriate authorities to activate the child abduction emergency alert (Amber alert), which is an emergency broadcast system that transmits information through different communication channels about an abduction. You will need to provide evidence that your child has been abducted before the amber alert is activated. Also, Amber alerts are only activated for children under 17 years of age.
It is also wise to get your kid a child emergency bracelet, which is a bracelet that has your contact details and other vital information that may come in handy in case of an emergency. There are also medical emergency bracelets that carry unique details about a child’s health, such as their allergy condition, or a unique health condition. This information is handy in cases of emergency when the parent may not be around and medical details are needed.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW DURING AN EMERGENCY
There is a list of valuable information you need to know or have at hand during an emergency. These include :
- Your child’s allergy (or allergies)
- Your child’s medication record
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Your child’s immunization details
- Your child’s weight
- Family medical history