Not only is it important for adults to know first aid and basic life support (BLS) techniques, but it’s also important for children to know these skills too. If you or another caregiver is injured, a child can take action in a number of ways that can save a life or provide care until emergency medical assistance arrives.
In teaching BLS to kids, keep these things in mind:
- Discuss safety around the house– Kids may have a hard time 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 talk about the possible injuries that can happen 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, or assemble one together, and go through the contents with your child. For each item, explain what it is and encourage your child to think of a time when they would need to use that item. 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.
- Brainstorm emergency situations– Many kids have a difficulty understanding the idea that first aid emergencies can happen to them or to the people they know. Spend time with your child talking about some of the common emergencies that can happen, like drowning, burns, heart attack, or heavy bleeding. Let your child contribute their own ideas so they are part of the conversation.
- Teach kids to use the phone – In today’s world, most parents each have their own cell phone and many households do not have a landline. Younger children may not know how to use either type of phone and it’s important for them to have a lesson so they can 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 on a regular basis so they have real experience using the phone.
- Use videos to teach techniques– Many children respond better to visual lessons than they do to 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 CPR
- 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
Teaching 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 is not able to assist them. Talking about first aid and BLS techniques as a family is a great way for kids to learn, or for more in-depth training, consider a basic life support course designed for children or families.
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 is aware of how to act in an emergency.
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. Ensure that you renew your certification regularly and continue to review core first aid concepts with your kids as they grown to ensure that everyone’s skills and knowledge are up to date.