While regular bumps and bruises are an everyday phenomenon, sometimes your child may suffer a more severe injury. And while an adult can sustain a 500ml loss of blood without severe repercussions, a loss of so much blood could cause a lot of damage to a child, and could be fatal in an infant.
The first step to take in any injury, be it a fracture or a gash, would be to control the bleeding before attempting anything else. Here's what you should do:
Seek medical help, urgently. The extent of your child's injury may be hidden, so act quickly.
Make your child lie down, with his face up.
Raise the legs by placing them on pillows. Lack of blood flow to the brain may cause your child to faint, so this increases the flow of blood to the brain. But if the legs are fractured, try not to move them.
You should also raise the injured limb and rest it, when possible.
Loosen any tight clothing or belts.
Don't apply any heat to the wound (eg. Hot water bottles). You could, however, cover your child with a blanket.
Remove any external debris and dirt carefully. But don't remove anything that has been imbeded in the skin.
Apply direct pressure to the wound. Use a clean cloth, place it on the wound and firmly press down. If blood soaks through the cloth, don't remove it. Simply cover it with another layer of cloth. BUT, if something is imbedded in the skin, DON'T apply direct pressure over it.
Similarly, if applying direct pressure does not reduce the bleeding, apply pressure to the artery that is supplying blood to that limb. Press the artery close to the bone under it.
It is best to apply pressure to the pressure points closest to the wound, so know the pressure points. They are usually in the upper arm or upper leg.
Keep applying pressure till the bleeding stops. Once it stops or slows down considerably, place a clean dressing, soaked in antiseptic, over the wound. If the dressing gets soaked in blood, do not remove it. Simply apply a new dressing on top. The more you fiddle with the dressing by removing it or peeping to see if the bleeding has stopped, the longer the bleeding will continue.
Don't give your child anything to eat or drink. If your child is thirsty, apply some water to his lips, but don't give him anything to drink.
If the injury is very severe and all this fails to stop the bleeding, apply a tourniquet. It should be firmly bound above the bleeding point, to stop blood flow to that point, so blood loss in controlled. Remember, a tourniquet should ONLY be used as a last resort.
Note down the time you have applied the tourniquet. The doctor would need to know.
Immobilise the injured part once the bleeding has stopped, and don't remove any bandages. Get your child to the hospital.
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- The Indiaparenting Team