Think You Know How to Handle These 10 Parenting Emergencies? Think Again!  

by Pool Builders on 05-18-2009 in Articles

There have been times over the years when I've seriously thought the words "parenting" and "emergency" were one and the same. You probably have, too, as kids tend to get into things when you turn your head for just a second. So, let's look at some common emergency situations and see the wrong and right way to handle them...

1. Your child gets hit in the head and is unconscious. Your first inclination is probably to pick up the child and move him/her to the house or even drive to the hospital. WRONG! The smart move, according to experts, would be to call 999/112 for emergency services. That's because, with a head injury, you don't know how serious it might be. There could be a spine or brain injury, and moving the child could make the situation worse. What you can do is, first, make sure the child is breathing and has a pulse. If the answer is yes, you may gently shake the child and call his/her name to see if you can wake the child. If the child is not breathing, start CPR immediately.

2. You lose your child in a public place. Your first inclination (probably to avoid embarrassment) is to search the place yourself. WRONG! In today's world, we have to assume the worst, and searching a public facility, especially a large one, can take lots of time. The right move is to do a quick search of the immediate vicinity, call out the child's name, and, if that doesn't work, immediately ask staff for help. Store workers and staff are typically trained to handle this situation, and can help man exits and entrances, check restrooms, etc. If that doesn't locate your child, call the police.

3. You see your small child holding a bottle of medicine (or some other household substance) and don't know if it's been ingested. Your first inclination is probably to take away the medicine and just keep an eye on the child to see if he/she gets sick. WRONG! Experts recommend you don't wait to see what happens. Instead, call emergency services immediately. They can advise you if the medicine/substance is toxic and whether you should take your child to the emergency room.

4. Your child gets poked in the eye. Your first inclination is probably to pry the child's hands away and open the eye. WRONG! Trying to open the eye, or applying ice or pressure could lead to more problems, even a loss of vision. The right move is to leave the eye closed and gently cover it with gauze or a clean cloth and head to the emergency room.

5. Something hot spills on your child. Your first inclination is probably to put ice on the burn. WRONG! Ice and even cold water may cause further damage, including a frostbite-like injury to skin already damaged from a burn. Also WRONG is using butter or antibiotic ointment on the burn. The right move, according to experts, is to remove any clothing that's covering the burned area, then run cool water on the burn for 10 minutes. Afterward, loosely cover the burn with gauze. If the wound blisters, then it's time to call the doctor.

6. You see your small child at the bottom of a swimming pool. God forbid you should ever have such an emergency. Any parent's first instinct is, of course, to dive in. WRONG! According to experts, most people aren't strong enough swimmers to get a child out of a pool without some help. The right move, if possible, is to quickly tell another person what's happened and have them call 999/112. Then, before you jump in the pool, find a flotation device to use to prevent the child from dragging you back down as you attempt the rescue. Once out of the water, promptly resuscitate the child (maintaining the neck in a neutral position to protect the cervical spine). Do NOT try the Heimlich unless you suspect a foreign body. Remove the child's wet clothing, cover with a blanket and get the child to the emergency room.

7. Your child gets stung by a jellyfish. Your first inclination may be to put rubbing alcohol (or urine), or fresh water on the wound. WRONG! The right move, according to emergency physicians, is to rinse the wound with sea water. Fresh water will actually make the wound more painful. Next, remove any visible tentacles, then apply a cloth soaked with white vinegar (lifeguards often carry a vinegar solution) to the wound until your child is no longer in pain. Should your child show any signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or difficulty breathing, get emergency medical treatment immediately.

8. You and your child are swimming in the ocean and get caught in a riptide. Your natural instinct is to head straight for shore. WRONG! Trying to swim directly against such a current leads to panic and exhaustion. Instead, experts suggest swimming parallel to the beach until they're beyond the pull of the current. Most riptides are usually only 20-60 feet wide, so you should first swim out of it and then head toward the beach once you're not fighting the current.

9. Your car plunges into a river. You may have heard (or seen on TV) that you should wait until the water pressure is equalized before trying to open the car door or window. WRONG! According to Dive Rescue International, every second is precious. As soon as you hit the water you should unfasten seat belts and try to open a door or window. If you can't, try breaking a window by striking the corner with a hard shoe, a soda bottle, one key held poking from your fist, etc. Better yet, equip your car's glove compartment with an emergency tool which can break a window and cut the seatbelts if needed.

10. Your child is bitten by a snake that might be poisonous. Your first reaction might be to try to suck out the venom with your mouth and/or apply a tourniquet. WRONG! The right response is to simply call emergency services, or drive to the nearest emergency room. Calling ahead is also a good idea, as anti-venom may need to be flown in if it's not on hand. During the drive, try to minimize any movement of the bitten limb and keep it below heart level.

Lastly, always seek the direct advice of your own doctor whenever possible. The information I've tried to provide here is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered a specific diagnosis or treatment plan.

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