This post is sponsored by Healthdirect Australia.
He walked over to me so calmly that I didn’t even look up from the book I was reading.
“I hurt my hand” he said…
“uhuh” I murmured thinking it couldn’t be that bad since he wasn’t howling, but then something caught my eye and I looked down to see a puddle of blood.
My eight year old had sliced his hand at the base of his thumb and was bleeding, quite calmly, all over the ground while he waited for me to finish the page of my book!
I looked up at his pale, horrified face and immediately told him to sit while a million things ran through my head… What do I do now!?!?
I’m actually pretty good in a crisis (if I do say so myself). After 10 years of teaching and 12 years of parenting, I’ve experienced quite a few crazy injuries, and plenty of run of the mill kid accidents, and I know how much it helps to be prepared. Over the years I’ve picked up some useful tips for how to cope if your child gets hurt, and now I have a plan of action.
Here are some of the things that we do to prepare for and manage childhood injuries.
Know your basic first aid and assess the situation.
Do your ‘DRSABC’ and make sure the situation is safe and that this is a minor injury and not something that needs immediate, emergency, help. If in doubt, call an ambulance – in Australia that’s Triple Zero (000)
Get the child to sit down.
Usually the child is scared, and possibly even a little dizzy, so the first thing I do is get them to sit or even lie down right where they are. That keeps them still and safe while I figure out what is going on, and what needs to be done about it.
Take a moment to find your calm.
It’s totally natural to be a little (or a lot) stressed when your child gets hurt, but everyone will cope much better if you can stay calm. So once you’ve decided this is not a life threatening emergency, take a moment to collect yourself. Take a few breaths and reassure your child. Don’t brush the injury off as nothing (even if it really isn’t that big of a deal), but don’t overreact either. A few calm, compassionate words to your child is often enough to calm everyone down.
Decide what to do and whether you need medical help.
It can be really difficult to think straight and make decisions when you are dealing with a crisis, and while most of us know what do to about the run of the mill childhood accidents, there will always be times when something happens and you are just not sure how to manage it, or you’d like some more advice.
This is when the healthdirect symptom checker comes in handy. You can select your symptoms and it will give detailed information about the best course of action. It will tell you if you need to go to the hospital, or if you need to see a doctor, as well as giving first aid information and a list of things to watch out for. It gives you good, clear, information and advice about what to do next, as well as a list and a map of local health services if needed which is so reassuring when you are dealing with a crisis.
If possible, get someone else to help you.
Having one adult stay with the child while someone else goes to get help or supplies is the best option, but at home I am often the only adult so in that case I stay with the child and ask my other kids to go get anything I might need like an ice-pack, blanket, etc.
Have a good first aid kit and put together an emergency pack.
We have well-stocked first aid kits stored safely both at home, and in each of our cars. We also have an emergency pack that includes things like towels, washers, a vomit bucket, a blanket, band aids, a bandage, and a bottle of water. We also have a couple of ice packs permanently in the freezer. Everyone knows where these items are and all the kids are able to access them – there is no point asking them to help me if they don’t know where things are or can’t get to them.
Make time to debrief.
After it’s all over and the injury has been dealt with, both you and your child are probably going to need to debrief.
We parents often sit around and swap stories about kid’s injuries, which is a great way to help process things. You’ll be relieved to hear your child is not the only one who manages to hurt themselves in somewhat unusual ways, and you are not the only parent who had to take a few deep breaths before they could deal with it all. You might even learn a few tips or tricks for next time too, that’s how I learned about the healthdirect website.
Our kids often need to debrief too. For little ones that can mean playing out the incident – sticking bandaids on their teddy, or setting up a pretend hospital or doctors surgery. Older children might need to tell the story, with all the gruesome details, to anyone and everyone. And all kids can use some extra love and connection and perhaps some reassurance and time to get their confidence back too.
So I’m sure you are wondering what happened to my boy and his bleeding hand?
After a few minutes of applying pressure to the cut the bleeding slowed and I got a decent look at it. It wasn’t super deep but it was in an odd spot and it was still bleeding, so I wasn’t sure exactly what we should do about it.
Usually in that situation I’d pack him off to our local Doctor to get an expert opinion, but it was late Sunday afternoon and I knew the surgery was closed.
Should I drive him the hour’s trip into the hospital?
Or would it be ok to clean and bandage up his hand and see how it went?
I really had no idea, so I jumped onto the healthdirect symptom checker and plugged in the details.
I was relieved to find that the first aid I’d given so far was pretty much correct, and that we didn’t need to go to the ER. It did suggest a trip to the doctor would be a good idea and I love the fact that the website immediately brought up a list of local Doctors, told me which of them were open right then, how far away they were, and gave me a map. That is a whole lot of Googling and calling I didn’t have to do to find a doctor!
We trotted off to the doctor who confirmed that there didn’t appear to be any major damage, just a deep, awkwardly placed, cut and he showed me how to dress it and tape it up so it didn’t keep opening up again, and off we went.
I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to get an opinion right as something happens, and how much easier it made the whole cut hand event to not have to second guess myself or search for a doctor.
It’s well worth checking out the healthdirect website and symptom checker and saving it to your favourites ahead of time so you know how to find it and how it works. The information and advice they offer is from Australia’s leading health organisations and has gone through a quality assurance review so you know it’s reliable and safe.
It’s not always easy to manage an injury or accident calmly but the more prepared you are the better you’ll cope and the easier it will be for your kids too.
Tell me your kid injury stories!
I know we’ve all got some great stories to share and hopefully some useful tips too.
So tell me your story, how did your child hurt themselves and how did you handle it?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Through child first aid courses I learned to have red face clothes in the first aid kit. When an injured child sees their own blood they may panic, causing a faster heart beat. Depending on the injury this could pose a negative impact as higher heart rate can increase blood loss.
What a great tip! I’ve never thought of that, but all my kids do panic at the sight of blood and it makes things much harder to manage when they are freaking out!
Wow I never heard of that website, what a handy resource! Will definitely bookmark. Quite a few months ago my baby girl had totally stopped moving her arm and cried any time it was touched, and I was so confused! My hubby is a doctor and guessed it was pulled elbow, but had I been alone I would have definitely been panicked. The only thing I could think of that would have caused it was that she was playing with my big boys on the bed, and maybe they accidentally pulled her arm. Poor thing! Injuries are NO fun!
It’s so hard to work out what is going on when they are too little to tell us isn’t! Lucky you have your own emergency doctor built in!
kate @ livinglovinglaughing says
oh that happened to lily too chelsea…. more than once!
I always find it really difficult to be objective with my own children. I am (or was) a paediatric doctor so I’m used to seeing lots of blood and nasty things. It’s just so different with my own kids. Mine scream lots, that scream that goes right to your “my child must be dying” part of your brain. And then I try to over compensate by treating it myself. I think (unless you need to call an ambulance) a 10 minute calm down period is a great idea. Just not so easy to do! I always say it’s better to get medical advice if you’re not sure. Better to be safe than sorry!
Great to think about all these things. I must admit, because my mother-in-law lives with us and is a nurse, and my dad is a paramedic. I often just call them for help!
You’ve got an inbuilt knowledge base! LOL Lucky you!
Kate L says
A symptom health checker! Oh my gosh, I seriously need that. Thanks for letting me know about it and I think you’ve shared such wonderful advice here Kate. I love that you suggest making time to debrief about what has happened.
It’s really helpful… so often I just need to double check that I am making the right decisions and this is perfect for that!
I’ll have to check out that website – it does sound really useful.
This week I got the call to pick up my 3 year old from child care because she had been hit in the head by a bucket and had quite a bad cut… So off to the Gp and then to the ER to get all glued up. What an ordeal! I really needed to make a mental note to myself to drive carefully and stay calm (oh and did I mention I had a 3 month old baby to take along??)
Why do these things always happen when we don’t have anyone to look after our other kids?
I ventured out to the library for the first time with my three year old twins and my 6 week old baby, and one of my twins fell over her own feet and smashed out her three front teeth! Juggling a baby and a whole lot of toddler blood was not fun!
Hope your little one’s head heals quickly, and that you don’t have to deal with any more accidents any time soon!
Wow that’s handy! My instinctive reaction when my kids hurt themselves is always to cover my eyes, look away and groan – not too helpful. The last injury at our house was a rope burn from sliding down a very high rope in a gymnastic class – it was awful, but the stoic kid didn’t even tell the teacher, she just waited to show me at the end of the class.
Oh man rope burn hurts!!! What a tough kid!
trixi symonds says
Great article and advice. The healthdirect symptom checker sounds like a good resource to bookmark! Luckily whenever the kids have hurt themselves my husband has been around. I really can’t deal well with the sight of blood or the kids being hurt and he’s just calm and seems to know what to do! Lucky for me.
This is incredibly useful information! I will make sure to pass it to my friends and family! Thank you!
kate @ livinglovinglaughing says
i love health direct and the symptom checker sounds awesome!!! because while i have done a first aid course, in the moment i always do panic a little and never quite sure how to deal. how helpful!!!
It’s always nice to be able to double check and know that you are right with your first aid!
Oh, that’s a great website to keep on hand, thanks. We’ve called the healthline for advice before, but sometimes it might be easier to look it up on the net, especially with the added info about nearby doctors etc. Thanks for the suggestion.
Stacey Jones says
This is a great website. We found it very handy when we were travelling.
Never thought to use symptom checker! We live 2mins from the local hospital so i just race up there! Nurses are fantastic.
We have had a broken foot and broken collar bone within 5 weeks of each other, same child, falling off chairs, seriously!!! Definately accident prone
Oh you are so lucky living close to a hospital – our closest is 45 minutes away.
Wow two lots of broken bones in five weeks must have kept you busy!!