First Aid Firsts: What Basics Your Kids Should Learn

Any child could encounter an emergency at some point, perhaps even on the playground. Children who are prepared have greater self-confidence in these situations, and can even save a life. Here are basic first aid skills to start teaching your child.

First Aid for Choking

Even young children can be taught the lifesaving Heimlich maneuver. Discuss what commonly causes choking and how to tell if someone might need help. Have your child practice the Heimlich maneuver on a stuffed toy. Children can also practice the basic movement on each other as long as they understand not to use the pressure they would use in a real emergency.


Young children can be introduced to CPR, and older children can easily master it. Explain the basics of when and how to use CPR. Avoid creating fear or anxiety about heart functions by answering their questions candidly. Tell them that CPR is only needed when someone’s heart has stopped. Call a cardiovascular clinic in your area like the ICE, Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence to see if they have illustrated pamphlets you can use to explain CPR and basic heart functions to a child.

    The basic steps your child should know are:

  • To listen to the chest and see if the person is breathing, or if they can hear a heartbeat.
  • How to call 911.
  • To start chest compressions — You can teach chest compressions using a stuffed toy.
  • Rescue breathing is more difficult to teach unless you have access to a CPR mannequin. Explain the steps as thoroughly as you can, and look for instructional videos online.

Stop Wound Bleeding

Profuse bleeding requires immediate care. Teach your child how to apply pressure on wounds using bandages or available cloth. The bandage shouldn’t be removed when the bleeding has stopped. Instead, instruct the child to call 911 or look for an adult.

Stop a Nosebleed

Nosebleeds become an emergency when the bleeding is profuse and shows no signs of stopping on its own. Kids should learn how to help the victim lean his head forward slightly, and pinch his nostrils shut for 10 minutes. If the bleeding continues, instruct children to call 911.

Treating Burns

Burns are one of the most common injuries. All children can be taught to cool burns with running water as soon as possible. When your child is old enough to understand, you can go into detail about the different degrees of burns. Burn cream in a first aid kit can be applied to first-degree burns after the burn has been cooled by water.

Avoid filling your child with anxiety about emergencies. Make the teaching process into a game or song to keep things lighthearted, and go over the steps often to help your child retain the information. With a few lessons they can be prepared and confident no matter what happens.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer, recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, and avid runner. She loves to blog about fitness, health, home and family. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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