How do you know if your baby has been poisioned?

The most common poisons relating to babies and children are items commonly found around the household like:

  • Alcohol
  • Cleaners
  • Bleaches
  • Medications

How signs of poisoning present

Most poisons present with one or two typical symptoms. The most common is nausea and vomiting.

Vomiting occurs because the baby understands very quickly that the substance they’ve just eaten or drunk is no good for them, and their brain (in defence mode) says let’s get rid of it… and so they vomit it up.

The other most common thing to identify a poisoning incident is an empty container or packaging. If your child has ingested something poisonous, say they’ve drunk weed killer in the garage, quite often they’ll have the empty bottle, or half empty bottle of weed killer lying next to them spilled on the ground.

Sometimes, children can even bring the container to you, and they see it as a trophy, so for instance toddlers quite often might go into a bedside drawer, they find medication, and they think they are lollies.

They eat all the stuff out of the medicine packaging, and then when they’ve got the empty packaging, they can actually go to you – Mum and Dad, Grandma and Grandad, and hold it up and be quite proud that they’ve just eaten this stuff that’s not that good for them.

But because there’s literally thousands of different types of poisons out there, there’s literally that many different ways that they can present.

They could cause tummy aches, they could cause burns, they could cause swelling, redness, but typically were looking at vomiting, and we also want to find this container that they’ve used.

What we need to do if your child has been poisoned, is make a phone call. And for once, this time, it’s not 000. This time you need to ring the Poisons Information Line.

The Poisons Information Line is a great service that works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Have that empty container or packaging with you. And while you’re talking to the operator, tell them what your child has just had – and however much is missing from the container of the product that you can read on the label.

The operator on 13 11 26 will then give you advice specifically relating to the poison that your child’s ingested. They can also organise an ambulance to come to you while they’re giving you advice.

These people will be able to tell you specifically what you need to do, relating to what the poison does to your child. So that might mean they might get your child to drink water, it might be not to drink water, they’ll give you the advice specifically that you require.

That number again is 13 11 26 for the Poisons Information Line. Save it in your phone under P for Poison so you’ve always got it available. If you want to learn more about poisons and how to treat poisons in the home come along to a Kids First Aid course.

Free DRSABC First Aid Poster

Here’s another potentially lifesaving resource for you and your family – put together by our team of trained paramedics.

Click HERE to get your copy of the Dr’s ABC poster for FREE

It’s a first aid poster focused on the simple process for handling any emergency situation confidently and calmly.

The six step process is called D.R.S.A.B.C. or Dr’s ABC – a short but powerful acronym designed to help you:

  • Identify immediate risks to you and the patient (D is for Danger)
  • Quickly assess the extent of their injuries (R is for Response)
  • Call for expert medical support (S is for Send for Help)
  • Ensure the patient’s airway is not blocked (A is for Airway)
  • Check the patient is breathing (B is for Breathing)
  • Administer CPR if necessary (C is for CPR)

The poster is yours free for you to print out and display in your home and office.

Click HERE to get your copy of the Dr’s ABC poster for FREE

So go ahead, download the poster and share it with your friends using the buttons below – I’m sure they’ll thank you for it!

Four Parenting Surprises You Won’t Understand Until You’re a Parent

Mother and childEveryone knows that when you have a baby, you’re going to be exhausted!  If children came with instruction manuals, there would be a “may cause drowsiness” or “don’t operate heavy machinery while parenting” sticker on the front cover.  

But we endure, we press on, our hearts full of boundless love.  Being a parent is a miracle, one that almost no one ever regrets.  But, there will be some challenges you must tackle and prepare yourself for, such as the lack of sleep and how having a child will literally change your life.

This is what parenting is all about!  It’s what you signed up for.  The problem is, despite all the stereotypes, the jokes, and what the baby books tell you about parenting, it’s a safe bet you’re about to run into a few surprises along the way.  

Here are a few of those surprises you might’ve suspected, but maybe never thought about:

1) Sleep will be difficult. 

Gone are the days of sleeping in on Saturday morning.  Gone are the days of waking up completely rested and ready to tackle the day.  This isn’t meant to scare you, but something really interesting happens once you become a parent.

Your parental instincts kick-in.  Even when you think you might have a moment to rest, that instinct will wake you up and keep you going.  Maybe it’s an urge to check on the little one.  You might even think you hear them crying and want to check on them, especially at first when they’re the most vulnerable.  

As they get older, it’s time for a whole new ballgame.  Can you imagine what toddlers are up to in the middle of the night?  Screaming if they’re having a nightmare, when they need a drink of water, or to use the bathroom.  It’s a free-for-all and one night is as unique and challenging as the next.  Even when they’re teenagers you’ll have sleepless nights, especially as they experience a lot of ‘firsts’, like first sleepover, first time borrowing the car, and their first date.

These are all natural thoughts and emotions you’ll have as a parent and they’ll never stop.  You’ll never stop worrying about their safety and well-being.  If you don’t hear from them after a certain amount of time, you might be inclined to think the worst.  Take it in stride and hopefully you’ll have plenty of help to get through it.  As they say, it takes a village…

2) Every day will be a new journey.  

Do you remember what it was like when you were young, careless, and free?  You had no responsibilities, had your holidays off, got to spend time with your friends whenever you wanted.  

Then, you got older.  Responsibilities started to set in.  Maybe your parents made you get a job during the holidays.  Everyone else got to relax and enjoy their break, but you had to work, go to school, and start handling your own bills.  

You see, once you become a parent, it’s that feeling ALL the time, except you don’t get a day off.  Maybe you can get grandma to come over for a few hours, but you’re literally on-guard 24/7.  As discussed above, you lose sleep.  You’re up early.  You’re feeding them, changing them, playing with them, rocking them, and soothing them.  

Once you think it’s all good, you’ll have to start the list over.  Then there’s laundry, cooking, cleaning, et cetera.  It doesn’t matter if you’re sick and tired, this is your job now and it doesn’t end.  Yes, it’ll be exhausting, but it does get easier.  Just like anything in life, you get used to the grind and it’s totally worth it in the end.

3) You might long for some adult stimulation.

You love your little munchkin.  They can be funny, honest, adorable, and even inspirational.  But the truth is, you’re an adult!  You are stimulated by adult conversations.  You enjoy shows that challenge you intellectually and leave you on the edge of your seat.  But get ready for what may potentially be an IQ-dropping change.

Little kids are relentless.  If they want your attention, they will get it.  They will sit in your lap and scream, “Mum. Hey mum. Mum? Mummy? Hey, mummy? MUM? MUMMY?” until you answer.  They’ll make you watch Dora the Explorer over and over and over again.  And don’t even think about turning the radio onto your favorite station while on the road.  

It can become brain-numbing and repetitive.  Be prepared for demanding answers, requesting, whining, tantrums, and a lot of busyness that doesn’t slow down.  A great way to counteract this is to find another mum just like you.  Not only will you get that stimulating conversation and advice from someone your age, your little one has a friend to burn up that extra energy with.

4) Don’t forget your spouse!

Whether you’re married, engaged, or have been dating a long time, the thought that persists is how kids can make a couple closer, but that’s not true in a lot of ways.  One of the toughest parts of raising children is the obvious stress it will put on your relationship.  It’s known that intimacy can dwindle, you’re both exhausted, and won’t be able to get out and go on dates like you used to.  

Therefore, it’s important to find ways to keep that spark going no matter how challenging raising children can get.  Remember, mum and dad are the cornerstone of the whole family.  You will have to sacrifice some things for the sake of raising your children, but your marriage/relationship isn’t one of them.  Make it a priority to spend time with your partner.  It will have a larger impact on your kids than you may realize.  

Parenting can be one of the most exhausting, challenging, and demanding jobs ever, but it’s also the most rewarding, amazing, and fantastic things you will ever accomplish in your life.  A child isn’t a weekend hobby, but a precious life that looks up to you to meet his or her needs.  And the secret you must know about parenting is no one knows what they’re doing.  They take it one day at a time and learn as they go.  

How To Safeguard Your Child From Falls

Children of all ages are prone to falling over. When first starting to walk, toddlers are unbalanced and unsure of their footing. In their teenage years, rapid growth spurts make for awkwardness. Between, stray laces and a lack of fear make for some spectacular tumbles.

Children develop quickly. One day they can hardly crawl, the next they are climbing up the lounge furniture as if they were Edmund Hillary or Sherpa Tenzing conquering Everest. It’s this rapid evolution of their skills that makes it so difficult to keep falls and bumps to a minimum. Perhaps the best we can do is stop falls from causing serious injury.

The home as an adventure playground

One of the most enjoyable things we do with our children is take them to a park or playground and let them play on the swings and slides. We encourage them to run and leap from one stepping stone to another, climb up ropes, and develop their muscles. Then we wonder why they use our furniture as their own indoor adventure playground!

Actually, it’s not all our fault. As soon as they can crawl, babies have a natural urge to get as high as they can, or move as quickly as they can to explore their surroundings further. When a child falls, how badly they are injured will depend upon:

  • How far they fall
  • What they fall onto
  • Obstructions they hit on the way down

Hard surfaces… um… hurt. Sharp table corners hurt too, and can cut, while a fall from 2 or 3 metres is more dangerous than a fall from a couple of feet.

Making your home a safe and ‘soft’ adventure playground

Young children are going to climb and run no matter what you do, so the best strategy to employ is to watch and understand how your child is developing and plan a safe home environment:

  • When a child is a baby, keep them safe by constant supervision and controlling their movement. If changing on a bed or changing table, keep a baby safe by keeping your hand on him or her even when you turn away.
  • As the baby grows into the toddler years, starts to crawl and then takes those first tentative steps, make sure that all furniture is sturdy and steady and can’t be pulled over.
  • Keep a safety gate on stairs to stop a crawling baby from climbing up and falling down
  • Keep all children’s toys at low levels that are easily accessible without climbing.
  • Move sharp edges away from areas where you child plays, or is likely to fall and bump into them.

Your young child is going to be curious, especially if he or she thinks they are ‘missing out’. Children who are put to bed while a garden party is going on are likely to climb up at the window. If it’s open, you risk them falling out. Move chairs away from windows and keep windows locked at all times. And if you have a balcony where you child plays, never leave them unattended.

A few tips for all

It’s not only children that are prone to falls. We adults fall over, too. Especially if:

  • Spillages haven’t been mopped up and floors are left slippery
  • Children’s toys litter the lounge room floor and stairs
  • Rugs on shiny floors don’t have anti-skid mats underneath

If your child falls over, the likelihood is that no serious damage will be done. But always err on the side of caution. It’s best to be safe than sorry.

A Burning Problem Easily Solved

One of the most agonising injuries that can be suffered is a burn. In a 2009/10 study in Australia and New Zealand, it was found that the most at risk of injury by burning are male toddlers between the age of one and two. Scalding is the most common form of burn injury (Ensure you keep that bath water at the right temperature).
How to eliminate the possibility of burns

Unfortunately, try as you might, there is no way to completely eliminate the possibility of burning. But you can reduce the risk massively:

  • Always keep your eye open for danger and make sure you supervise your child at all times
  • Reinforce the danger areas in your home by gently telling your child to stay away
  • Keep electrical wires and cables out of reach of children
  • Make the kitchen a no-go area when you’re cooking and never leave boiling pots and pans unattended
  • Don’t use electric blankets in children’s rooms and turn off any heaters at night (or keep them at a very low temperature)
  • In living rooms, install heater guards and make sure all toys and playpens are at least 1 metre away from heaters

Forget ‘don’t drink and drive’; don’t drink and cuddle!

Okay, we don’t really mean that you don’t need to worry about drinking and driving – of course, you should never mix the two. But the same can be said of drinking a tea or coffee while you have a youngster in your arms or on your lap: don’t do it!

If you have an open fire or other naked flame (for example, candles or gas burners), never let children be near them without supervision – and don’t take your eye away from them, not even for a second.

Similar precautions should be taken outdoors. The family barbecue – where there is likely to be burning coals, patio heaters, blow torches, gas lighters, and so on – is one of the most dangerous events held by the Australian family. Always have a bucket of cold water on hand, supervise the children at all times, and know what to do should an accidental burn be suffered.

The Menace of Medicines in the Home

Here in Australia we tend to associate poisoning with jellyfish stings, snakes, and spiders. But there’s something way more dangerous – and potentially deadly – lurking in the average household cupboard: medicines. Children are most at risk from accidental poisoning in the home, and those under 5 are in the highest risk category.

How do you know if your child has been poisoned in the home?

Young children love exploring, and one of the ways that toddlers learn about their environment is by putting things in their mouths. If a child could (or would) tell you that he or she has swallowed something they shouldn’t have, it would make a parent or carer’s job a whole lot easier. But they don’t, do they? So knowing a few of the tell-tale signs of poisoning is essential. These symptoms include:

  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Stomach pains, and possibly diarrhoea
  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • General weakness
  • Shivering or sweating
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Rash (or perhaps burns around the mouth)
  • Seizures

That’s a long list of symptoms, and if you do suspect that your child has been poisoned by medicines you should try to establish which medicine is to blame and get medical help immediately.

Prevention is better than cure

Though little hands and enquiring minds mean almost nowhere is safe in the house, there are some precautions you should take with your medicines:

  • Keep all medicines in a locked cupboard out of the reach of children
  • Never take your tablets and other medicines out of their containers, and make sure the lid is secured always
  • Keep bags out of children’s reach. This is especially important when you have visitors: a woman’s bag is a favourite place to keep medicine, and a target for toddlers
  • When visiting friends and relatives, keep an eye on your toddler at all times

Avoid Bath Time Danger and Keep Your Child Safe

Baby bath with foam washesBath time is one of the happiest moments with a baby. A few minutes of fun and baby giggles, never mind the cuddles afterwards. Unhappily, the bath is one of the most dangerous places for your baby, toddler, or young child. Every bath time brings two main dangers: drowning and scalding.

Before bath time

Rule one to make sure bath time is a happy time is to be prepared. Get the towel and face washer, soap and hair shampoo ready. Make sure that you have a clean nappy and a change of clothes on hand.

When you run the water, always run the cold water first and check the temperature is between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius.

During bath time

Never leave your child alone in the bath, and always stay close – no more than an arm’s length away.

There are plenty of distractions that could pull you away from where you should be − a knock at the door or the telephone ringing, for example. Ignore them all.

As a habit,  a safe practice could be to turn your mobile phone off  before you take your child into the bathroom to avoid distractions.

After bath time

Once bath time is finished, let the water out. In fact, pull the plug out of the bath as soon as you lift your child from the water. It’s the only safe way. It’s easy to forget the water is still in the bath, and even the smallest of crawlers will be tempted back into the water while you’re not around.

One final thing…

Every year, an average of five children under the age of five will drown in the bath in Australia. Another 47 will spend time in hospital because of a near-drowning in the bathtub (Department of Health and Ageing). Hundreds more are scalded by bathwater that is too hot. Taking the simple precautions above will ensure your baby or young child does not join these numbers. And if – Heaven forbid – the worst should happen, make sure you know what emergency action to take for burns and scalding and for drowning.

Don’t Let Your Child Become A Statistic – Accident-Proof Your Home

Toddler playing with household cleaners at homeWe all like to think that when we’re at home we’re in the safest place possible, but statistics just don’t back this up. According to data from Allianz, 33% of all accidents occur in the home, and the home is the second most likely place that someone will suffer an accidental death (after roads).

We all know that accidents happen, but the same study shows that 6 out of every 10 preventable accidents happen in the home, with children most at risk.

Your home is a dangerous playground

Children learn by play − a fact we tend to forget in the home. Every room is a playground that should have a hazard warning. Poisoning, falls from windows, cuts and drowning are all common accidents in the home.

And just when we think we’ve childproofed our home, they go and grow a little taller and grab things that were once safely out of reach. So childproofing your home is a constant challenge that has to be met.

Here are ssome things to do that will make your home as safe as it can be, especially for children who just want to play:

  • Be a constant supervisor – keep an eye on what your child is doing and on the new hazards they begin to encounter as they grow
  • Make sure all cupboards and drawers are protected by childproof locks
  • Keep windows locked, and pools safe with suitable fencing
  • Keep tools locked away, and unplug electrical tools and appliances when not in use
  • Cover all chains and springs with a sheath and ensure that none are more than 5cm long (that way they can’t be wrapped around a baby’s neck)

Some of the easiest things to do are those that are most easily forgotten. Installing smoke alarms, replacing old electrical appliances, and making sure safety guards are across balconies and at the top and bottom of stairs are all common-sense actions of responsible parents.

Finally, always have a first aid kit in a handy place in the home, and pin up useful emergency numbers next to the ‘family portrait’ by your favourite artist – the portrait that is stuck on the fridge door.

5 of the Most Common Emergency Situations Involving Children and How to Respond

1. Falls are one the most common emergency situations paramedics see involving children. The effects of falls can range from bleeding and abrasions (which are usually easily managed by a parent with a first aid kit) to sprains/fractures and head injuries. Head injuries from a fall are most likely to be minor but it is crucial that parents learn to recognise when the injury is serious as a serious head injury may require emergency care.

2. Choking is often described as one of most scary things a parent may encounter! Being aware of the different types of choking and knowing how to respond can really be a matter of life and death. A choking event may be a complete obstruction where the child is silent as the airway is completely obstructed, or a partial obstruction with the child having difficulty breathing and hearing a wheeze. Appropriate treatment will depend on which type of choking but may include back blows and administering CPR.

3. One of the most common ambulance jobs our Paramedics attend is for Febrile Convulsions although many parents don’t know what they are or how to respond and often cannot stay calm to help the situation. It is important to call 000, Lay your child on the floor and loosen any tight clothing, roll the child onto their side only once jerking has stopped or if the vomit. Never try to restrain a fitting child.

4. Children are naturally curious. They learn by putting things into their mouths and touching things they shouldn’t. Among the most common injuries suffered by children are burns (caused by dry heat) and scalds (caused by hot liquids). Of course, prevention is better than cure. So keep children away from the kitchen, away from hot water taps, and away from anywhere where hot surfaces or liquids may be within touching distance. In the event your child is burned, you must act quickly. Call 000, remove clothing, nappy or jewellery (unless it is stuck to the skin) cool the skin under cold running water.

5. Recognising respiratory distress early can have a huge impact on the final outcome, so knowing the signs is vital. Some signs and symptoms of breathing difficulties may include, wheezing sounds, pale/cool sweaty skin, hoarse barking cough, shortness of breath and sucking in of chest muscles, blueish colour around the mouth and the child may have a fever. If your child is in respiratory distress you must call 000, keep upright and forward, provide reliever medication if available and if not breathing commence CPR.

The most important thing for parents and carers to do is to equip themselves with the correct skills to use in an emergency situation involving their child. It is essential that parents try to remain calm and collected during the event and have the knowledge and skills to render the appropriate treatment. What happens immediately after an emergency can make all the difference!

Learn all of this and much much more including how to administer CPR from a Qualified Paramedic in a 3 hour Kids First Aid course, available across Australia.

Visit www.kidsfirstaid.com.au or call 1300 138 133 for more information.

Dealing with Accidental Amputations

Hands in gloves putting on a bandageAccidental amputation of limbs can happen at any time and any place, and young children’s delicate limbs are most at risk. Not only are young children’s bodies not fully formed, and therefore easier ‘to break’, but little children don’t understand the dangers posed by doors and drawers.

In the UK, one case that hit national media headlines was that of little Sophie Dedek, who lost a fingertip while at a nursery taster session. Staff didn’t even realise the finger had been severed until someone spotted it on the floor while cleaning. Sophie’s parents arrived to find their child’s hand wrapped in a blood soaked towel and the fingertip in a cup of ice. Unfortunately, despite surgeons working for more than two hours to try to reattach the fingertip, Sophie is now left maimed for life. If the correct procedures had been followed, the outcome may have been entirely different.

Treating an amputated limb

The most common accidental amputation is a finger, but whatever the limb affected the treatment will be the same. There is likely to be a lot of blood, and bleeding is the first thing you must control:

  • Apply firm pressure to the finger with something dry and clean. If you have your first aid kit nearby, use some sterile gauze.
  • Raise the finger above the heart: this will help slow the flow of blood to the finger.
  • Call for an ambulance.
  • Inspect the finger to see if it is intact

Preserving the severed limb

With the bleeding under control, the amputated piece of the finger will need to be properly preserved for the paramedics and proceeding surgical procedure. If the amputated finger part is dirty, rinse it under running water. Wrap it in damp, sterile gauze (or, failing this, use paper towel) and seal it in a plastic bag to ensure the air doesn’t get to it.. Finally, place the sealed plastic bag on a bed of ice and water.

Avoid the common mistake

The most common mistake, and one of the accumulating mistakes made by Sophie’s nursery, is to place the severed finger directly into ice. This only causes more damage and reduces the possibility of reattachment.

Whatever you do, don’t separate the finger from the child. Make sure they stay together the whole journey to the hospital. Plastic surgeons have fantastic abilities to ‘do the impossible’ – but they can only do this if they have the equipment available to do so, and the most important piece of that equipment is the severed limb!