First Aid and Children by Gary Benton
Children should be watched very closely on all camping or outdoors trips. Frequently a child will copy an adult behavior and this can lead to minor injuries. Most of the injuries you’ll find when kids are in the woods are scrapes, minor cuts, bruises, and burns. Often the injury requires little treatment beyond cleaning and placing a covering on the wound to keep it clean.
If you spend a lot of time with small kids in the bush, make sure your first aid kit is geared toward treating them. Often even the smallest injury can frighten a small child and I have found it easier if I give the child special attention. For instance, I usually have suckers or candy to reward the bravery of an injured, along with a very small stuffed animal the child can hold as I do the treatment. Usually I will joke with the child as I treat them, making sure I down play the injury as I tell them how brave they are being. The key, or so I’ve found, is to project the fact that you know what you’re doing, you’re comfortable doing it, and the child has nothing to worry about.
In cases of open wounds, cuts and scrapes, make sure you clean the injured area. I usually use plain old soap and water to clean with, treat with a disinfectant, and then cover with a bandage. I also make sure I carry some band aides that have cute cartoon illustrations printed on them just for children. The key here is to clean the injured area and cover it, to avoid infections. Small cuts and scrapes can become very serious if they become infected and very few of us are really that clean in the woods.
Bruises are typical injuries with children and often the child can just be given a little personal attention to fix the problem. However, if swelling occurs, severe pains when the area is touched, or any other abnormal symptoms pop up seek medical attention immediately. Most bruises are slightly painful when touched, discolored, and will disappear within a few days, but serious or large bruises should be evaluated by your doctor.
Another common day-to-day injury in the woods with kids is burns. Most of the burns you treat will be small burns, usually the result of picking up a hot lid to a pan or from touching a smoldering piece of wood from the fire. This type of burn is classified as a 1st degree burn and while painful, it is a minor injury.
A 2nd degree burn is more severe and is identified by redness and the formation of blisters. Both the 1st and 2nd degree burn should be treated with cool water or ice as soon as possible after the injury. This will lessen the pain and assist in lessening the amount of tissue damaged. In all burns, except minor 1st degree burns seek medical treatment immediately.
The last type of burn is a 3rd degree burn and it causes the most damage to tissue. The burned area will be charred or black in color. Surprisingly there may be little pain at first due to severe nerve damage. Use cool CLEAN water to treat the injury and cover the injury with a lint free cloth. Of injuries resulting from burns, this type of burn is the most dangerous and it can result in death. Seek medical attention immediately! Keep in mind to treat for shock as well.
Giving first aid to a child should be done with confidence, tenderness, and patience. Explain what you are doing, why you are doing it, answer any questions the child may have, and you’ll be surprised how quickly things get back to normal.
Take care in the woods and on America’s water, until next time.