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Top 10 First Aid Tips
By Anastasia Alcock's

As a paediatric doctor I am often in paediatric A&E facing various first aid crises. It’s a traumatic time for both the parents and children, so I wanted to give you a few top tips to increase your confidence when dealing with these situations. Forewarned is forearmed, and some of these suggestions may allow you to stay away from the hospital.

1. Safety in the home

Accidental injury is one of the biggest causes of death in the UK. Children over the age of one are more likely to die from accidents than from cancer or meningitis. Many of these accidents are preventable with some basic steps.

The first step is to make your home safe. A simple check list includes:

  1. Fit smoke detectors
  2. Ensure you have fire guards
  3. Turn electrical switches off
  4. Keep flex cords out of reach
  5. When cooking, keep pan handles pointing away from the edge and out of reach of little hands
  6. Keep hot drinks in the middle of the table, or up high, out of reach
  7. Ensure you have child resistant bottles for medicines
  8. Keep all medicine in a cupboard out of reach (look out for nearby chairs or boxes which could provide access) or lock it away
  9. Don’t hang up bags by their cord – children regularly get caught up in these
  10. Never leave your child in the bath unobserved, even for a second.

2. Essential first aid kit

It is always better to be prepared. You can often buy a ready-made kit from your local pharmacy, or you can make your own. Make sure you know the basics of first aid: if you don’t, do a course. Here is a list of essentials I would recommend having in any house:

  • Non-waterproof plasters in varying sizes
  • 2x sterile eye pads
  • 1x crepe bandage
  • 1x triangular bandage
  • 6x medium sterile dressings pads
  • 2x large sterile dressing pads
  • 1x scissors
  • 6x alcohol wipes
  • 6x safety pins
  • antiseptic cream
  • antihistamine cream
  • aracetamol/Ibuprofen
  • tape
  • thermometer


3. Controlling a temperature

If your child has a temperature:

  1. Remove excess clothing.
  2. Use a fan to circulate the air in the room to aid in cooling.
  3. Give Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (only if your child is over 3 months old, if not you need to seek medical advice). You can give four doses of Paracetamol within twenty-four hours and three doses of Ibuprofen in twenty-four hours. There are two regimes that you can follow in order to make sure that you are giving the correct amount. 


Plan A

  1. Full dose Paracetamol and full dose Ibuprofen (as shown on the bottle of medicine that you are giving – different brands have different doses).
  2. Repeat six hours later.
  3. Repeat again after six hours.
  4. You may give your child one full dose of Paracetamol if they wake up in the night.


Plan B

  1. Give a full dose of Paracetamol
  2. Four hours later give a full dose of Ibuprofen
  3. Four hours later give a full dose of Paracetamol
  4. Four hours later give a full dose of Ibuprofen
  5. Four hours later give a full dose of Paracetamol
  6. Four hours later give a full dose of Ibuprofen.
  7. Finally, give a full dose of Paracetamol four hours later.

If you are unable to get the temperature down at home you need to seek medical help.

4. Objects stuck in the ear

Straight to A&E, I’m afraid! You risk pushing the object further into the ear canal if you try to remove it yourself. This may make it difficult for the A&E team to remove it and your child may have to undergo an operation to have it removed.

5. Objects stuck in the nose

This can often be dealt with at home. You need to put your mouth over your child’s mouth and blow a short, sharp breath into their mouth.  The aim of this is to force some air up their nose, pushing the object out.  Though beware, you might get covered with mucus! Having an object in the nose is deemed as a medical emergency because it might dislodge and block your child’s airway. If you can’t remove it yourself you need to seek medical help.

6. Swallowing poisons or tablets

Straight to A&E as quickly as possible. Remember to take the box of tablets or the bottle of solution with you. Once at the A&E they will investigate what is in the tablet/liquid and make a plan. Getting your child to A&E quickly is key to allowing action to be taken before the poison is absorbed.

7. Burns

The injured area must be put under cold running water immediately.  This will reduce the heat of the skin. Be sure to do this for 10 minutes.  Then, allow the area to warm up again and, if needed, put it under the tap for a second time for no longer than 10 minutes - any longer could make your child cold. If you do not have any running water to hand then immerse the wound in any cold liquid you have available. You can use a showerhead to apply the water to the affected area if one is to hand. Submerging your child in a cold bath is not ideal as it can make them extremely cold.

Do not remove your child’s clothes if they are stuck to their skin. Use clingfilm to cover the burn or scald. Don’t put butter, toothpaste, oil or ointment on a burn or scald as it will have to be cleaned off before treatment.

Blisters will burst naturally. The raw area underneath them will need a protective dressing.

8. Fits and convulsions

If your child has a fit they may suddenly turn blue and become rigid with staring eyes. Perhaps their eyes may roll and their limbs may twitch and jerk, or maybe they’ll suddenly go floppy. The following will help to deal with the situation:

  • Keep calm. Try to remember to note the time of the attack.
  • Loosen anything tight around their neck.
  • Make sure that they are not in a place that could cause them harm if they hit anything when twitching/jerking.
  • Don’t put anything in their mouth. If you think they’re choking on food or an object, try to remove it.
  • Most fits will stop within three minutes. When it’s over, reassure your child and make them comfortable. Ideally put them in the recovery position (on their side with their chin raised up)
  • If the fit hasn’t stopped within three minutes or it is their first fit, go to hospital.
  • Don’t panic. Fits need to last longer than 30 minutes for there to be any risk of damage.

Although fits may look alarming, they're common in children under the age of three. The most common reason for having a fit in this age group is having a temperature. These fits are known as febrile convulsions. Febrile convulsions are not usually connected with epilepsy. 

9. Diarrhoea and vomiting

The main risk here is dehydration. If the child is under 3 months old you should seek medical advice quickly as their risk of dehydration is greater.  Give your child sips of cooled boiled water, or Dioralyte. The aim is small amounts of fluid, often. In A&E we give 5 – 10ml every 5 – 10 minutes. If they only want milk or juice give it to them. If they vomit it up they are unlikely to ask for it again! 

10. The British Red Cross First Aid App for Babies and Children

It is free and fabulous – I highly recommend that you download it. It is very easy to use and full of practical advice. I have it on my phone too!

About the Author

Dr. Anastasia Alcock
The Prenatal Classroom

Mother-of-two Anastasia Alcock holds a Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and graduated from Imperial College School of Medicine in London. She has worked as a paediatric doctor in hospitals including Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London, St Marys Paddington, London, and The Royal Brompton Hospital, London.  She is currently working at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. She has significant experience in delivery and newborn care.

Most expectant mums have a multitude of questions as they prepare for their new arrival. Who better to ask for advice and support than an experienced doctor who is also a mum and who above all has the time to listen to your concerns and worries?

Anastasia launched The Prenatal Classroom to offer group and private lessons for expectant parents to teach them the knowledge they need to approach parenthood with confidence.

The course was put together based on Anastasia’s medical knowledge, her own experiences as a mother the psychological wellbeing of pregnant women and with additional input from experts in obstetrics, nutrition, breastfeeding and baby care.

Classes are held in Central London at Grace Belgravia. They are relaxed and informal but have a clear format and come with reassurance that a team of specialists are present throughout the course each offering evidence based facts and tips. Private classes are also offered.

T: 07940 589 021
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