Even the healthiest kids get hurt or sick sometimes. When it happens, having a well-stocked first-aid kit and knowing how to handle an emergency are musts for every parent. After you’ve determined if your child needs to be seen by a physician or if you can treat your child at home, you need to be able to easily reach for supplies.
“Every family should have a first-aid kit in the home and in the car,” said Kathryn Owens, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Hospital Medical Associates – Brownsboro. “And don’t forget when you go on vacation — that’s when a lot of accidents happen.”
First-aid kits can be purchased at drugstores or you can make one yourself. If you make one, choose a container that is durable and easy to carry and open. Your first-aid kit should include:
- First-aid manual
- Sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
- Adhesive tape and bandages
- Elastic bandage
- Antiseptic or alcohol wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic solution (like hydrogen peroxide)
- Hydrocortisone cream (1 percent)
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Sharp scissors
- Safety pins
- Instant heat and cold packs
- Calamine lotion
- Tooth preservation kit
- Plastic non-latex gloves
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- List of emergency phone numbers
- List of medications each family member takes
When is it an emergency?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether an injury or illness needs immediate medical attention. “You don’t want to rush to the ER if it isn’t a true emergency and can wait for a doctor’s appointment,” Dr. Owens said. “On the other hand, you don’t want to wait to get care if your child needs it right away.”
These tips can help you determine what level of care your child needs:
- Handle from home. Most minor injuries (such as cuts, most rashes, scrapes and bruises) and minor illnesses (such as coughs and colds) can be handled at home with a first-aid kit or over-the counter treatments.
- Call your doctor. If you’re unsure of the level of care your child needs, the pediatrician’s office can help you decide what to do.
- Go to an immediate care center. This can be a good option when your child needs to see a doctor but your pediatrician’s office is closed, such as at night and on weekends. These centers are equipped with X-ray machines and labs, and can care for all types of minor injuries and illnesses.
- Go to a hospital emergency room. An ER is there for serious problems, such as severe bleeding, head trauma, seizures, breathing difficulties and dehydration.
- Call 911 for an ambulance. Some situations are very serious and require the help of medical personnel on the way to the hospital. These might include a car accident, head or neck injury, unconsciousness or not breathing. In these cases, dial 911 for an ambulance.
It’s important to remember that when you know the problem is not serious, it’s best to contact your child’s doctor or go to an immediate care center. ERs can be crowded, can cost more and can leave you waiting a long time to see a doctor.