- Identify your role in responding to injuries.
- Recognize when you need to call emergency medical services to respond to an injury.
- Develop a plan to maintain classroom order during an emergency.
This lesson only provides a very brief introduction to keeping children safe when they are injured. You are required to maintain current CPR and first aid certification.
Infants and toddlers are natural explorers. Have you ever thought, “That child has no fear!”? You were probably right. Infants and toddlers do not recognize the danger in situations. They challenge their developing bodies and minds. You have to be prepared to respond to a range of injuries. Some injuries will require cleaning and bandaging. Other injuries require immediate medical attention. You must be able to tell the difference between the two. You must be prepared to respond during any situation. Consider these examples:
Your facilities and classrooms are designed to minimize risks when accidents occur. For example, properly inspected playground equipment and cushioned fall zones make it unlikely a child would be seriously injured in a fall from the slide. The safety rules you teach make it less likely children will collide with one another at high speeds. Even in the best situations, though, accidents happen. You must be prepared to act on injuries big and small.
Some injuries are small and only require minor first aid. For example, when Dante skins his knee, his caregiver will likely respond by cleaning the wound, applying a bandage, and completing an incident report. Dante is able to continue playing.
Other injuries are serious but not life threatening. For example, Madison may need medical treatment for her injuries, but she is not likely to face permanent disability or death.
Some injuries are life threatening and require immediate medical attention. For example, Luke's accident with a moving vehicle, Luis's ingestion of pills, and Millie's choking could all result in serious injury or death. As a child development professional, you must be able to recognize these situations and respond appropriately.
You must know what resources are available for helping an injured child. Your options will depend on the severity of the injury and the urgency of the situation. If the injury is minor, like a cracked lip, a caregiver trained in first aid can offer immediate care. If a child is choking or not breathing, a caregiver trained in first aid or CPR should also respond immediately. Training on first aid and CPR is offered by your employer and community agencies, such as the Red Cross. If an injury is severe or a child displays life-threatening symptoms, call emergency medical services (EMS). EMS refers to any emergency responders in your area. These may be firefighters, ambulance companies, or the police. EMS services are reached when you dial 911.
You must know what to look for when you are deciding how to respond to an injury.
If a child has any of the following symptoms, call emergency medical services (EMS) right away:
- You believe the child's life is at risk or there is a risk of permanent injury.
- The child has difficulty breathing, is having an asthma exacerbation, or is unable to speak.
- The child's skin or lips look blue, purple, or gray.
- The child has rhythmic jerking of arms and legs and a loss of consciousness (seizure).
- The child is unconscious.
- The child is less and less responsive.
- The child has any of the following after a head injury: decrease in level of alertness, confusion, headache, vomiting, irritability, or difficulty walking.
- The child has increasing or severe pain anywhere.
- The child has a cut or burn that is large, deep, or won't stop bleeding.
- The child is vomiting blood.
- The child has a severe stiff neck, headache, and fever.
- The child is significantly dehydrated: sunken eyes, lethargic, not making tears, not urinating.
- Multiple children are affected by injury or serious illness at the same time.
- When in doubt, call EMS.
After you have called EMS, remember to contact the child's legal guardian.
If a child has any of the following symptoms, get medical attention within one hour:
- Fever in any age child who looks more than mildly ill
- Fever in a child less than eight weeks of age
- A quickly spreading purple or red rash
- A large volume of blood in the stool
- A cut that may require stitches
- Any medical condition specifically outlined in a child's care plan requiring parental notification
When it comes to responding to injuries, make sure you always do the following:
It is important to think about what you would do during stressful situations. Read and review the Responding to Injuries activity. Complete the answers and share with your coach, trainer, or administrator. Then compare your answers to the suggested responses.
Make sure you are prepared for injuries and other emergencies. Read the First Aid Kit Checklist and use it to make sure your first aid kit is well-stocked.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2019, September 24). When your child needs emergency medical services. Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/Pages/When-Your-Child-Needs-Emergency-Medical-Services.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. (2019). Caring for our children: National health and safety performance standards; Guidelines for early care and education programs. (4th ed.). American Academy of Pediatrics. https://nrckids.org/CFOC