Not only is it important for adults to know first aid and basic life support (BLS) techniques, but it’s also essential for children to know these skills too. If you or another caregiver is injured, a child can take action in several ways to save a life or provide care until emergency medical assistance arrives.
Why Should Children Learn Basic Life Support Skills?
It is essential for children to gain a strong knowledge of life-saving skills, such as high-quality CPR to give them confidence while dealing with medical emergencies such as choking or cardiac arrest. The approach to BLS in infants and children slightly differs for single rescues, so it is crucial that schools provide this training as part of the curriculum. CPR training has been implemented in schools over the past decade in many countries.
Can children perform CPR?
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a critical life-saving skill, and according to the American Heart Association, children as young as nine can learn the basic steps. This is an incredibly important ability to have, as it can double the survival rate from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Though many children may not have the strength to perform CPR on an adult, learning the skill at a young age will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Basic First Aid Skills Children Must Learn
When it comes to teaching BLS and giving first aid training to children, the primary material should cover these essential lessons based on the American Heart Association guidelines:
- Treat wounds and proper bandaging techniques
- High-quality CPR for cardiac arrest victims
- Treat choking or foreign-body airway obstruction
- Effective ventilations by giving rescue breaths
- Bag mask device
- High-quality chest compressions
- Apply pressure to stop bleeding
- Administer EPI Pen
- Calling for 911 help
- Application of Automated External Defibrillators before the arrival of the emergency response team.
- Putting a patient in the recovery position
What should you keep in mind when teaching BLS to kids?
Discuss safety around the house
Kids may have difficulty grasping concepts about ocean safety or injuries that can occur while climbing a mountain. Keep your lesson easy for children to understand by discussing safety at home. Take a tour of your home together and discuss the possible injuries in each room, like burns or choking in the kitchen and cuts in the garage. This allows children to see how accidents can happen right at home, and they can see the hazards that are present every day.
Explore a first aid kit
Purchase a first aid kit, assemble one, and go through the contents with your child. For each item, explain what it is and encourage your child to think of when they would need to use it. Teach them how to use each item in the kit and show them where you store it so they can easily access it in an emergency.
Many kids have difficulty understanding that first aid emergencies can happen to them or those they know. Spend time with your child talking about some of the common emergencies that can occur, like drowning, burns, heart attack, or heavy bleeding. Let your child contribute their ideas, so they are part of the conversation.
Teach kids to use the phone
In today’s world, most parents have cell phones, and many households do not have a landline. Younger children may not know how to use either phone and need a lesson to call for help if needed. Teach them how to dial 911 and show them which buttons to press on the phone to make a call. Have them call a friend or relative regularly, so they have real experience using the phone.
Use videos to teach techniques.
Many children respond better to visual lessons than simply listening to you talk about first aid. There are plenty of great resources online or on YouTube where you and your child can watch first aid videos together. Look for videos created specifically for children to make sure they can understand the content and get the most benefit from what they see.
Practice makes perfect
Talking about first aid is one thing, but doing it is a different experience. Use a doll or stuffed toy to demonstrate first aid techniques to children and have them practice these skills themselves.
Some things you can practice together using a doll are:
- How to take a pulse
- How to perform high-quality CPR
- How to give mouth to mouth resuscitation
- How to elevate a wound
- How to perform the Heimlich maneuver
- How to cover a victim and provide reassurance while waiting for emergency medical assistance
- How to check the area for safety before assisting the victim.
How to get BLS Certification?
The online BLS certification courses are ideal for busy parents who want to learn the skills they need to educate their kids and to be able to save a life when it matters most. Please check that the basic life support certification should be nationally recognized and valid for two years. Then, ensure that you renew your certificate regularly and continue to review core first aid concepts with your kids as they grow to ensure that everyone’s skills and knowledge are up to date.
Teaching Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and other BLS techniques to children is not meant to scare or worry them. Instead, BLS training gives kids confidence and assurance that they can help in emergencies even when an adult or healthcare provider cannot assist them. Talking about first aid and BLS techniques as a family is an excellent way for kids to learn, or for more in-depth training, consider a basic life support course designed for children or families.
When it comes to teaching BLS and giving first aid training to children, the primary material should cover these essential lessons based on the American Heart Association guidelines. Many public health organizations, hospitals, swimming pools, and schools offer courses for children. Parents are also encouraged to get their BLS certification so the whole family knows how to act in an emergency.