Accidents happen – be prepared

5636335201406655706Accidents happen – having the skills and confidence to appropriately help is vital! 

Accidents are the number one cause of preventable death in under 60s in the UK and young children are particularly accident prone.

First Aid training plays a crucial role in empowering parents and carers with the skills and confidence to help should an accident occur. Keeping calm, understanding how to recognise and prioritise life threatening injuries and knowing what to do in the first critical seconds can make the difference between life and death. Taking a good quality First Aid course run by highly qualified medical or emergency services professionals will teach you these skills and give you the peace of mind and reassurance to enable you to be confident and competent to do the right thing should an accident occur. Understanding at what point to phone an ambulance is vital, as it is important to deal with any life threatening injuries first before reaching for your phone. It is also crucially important to know when and how to move someone and when they should be kept still.

Every year around 120 children under 14 die as the result of an accident in the home. Each year there are approximately 4000 deaths as the result of a home accident. Around 120 of these are below 15 years and 1300 over 75. Every year more than 4,200 children are involved in falls on the stairs and 4,000 children under the age of 15 are injured falling from windows. 26,000 under-fives are burnt or scalded in the home every year. A hot drink that has been sitting for 15 minutes can still be hot enough to scald a small child. (RoSPA accident statistics)

Further frightening statistics from a survey of 2000 parents by Mother and Baby Magazine reported that:

  • 19% of parents have seen their child choke but 69% didn’t know what to do.
  • 92% of parents don’t think their babysitter would know what to do in relation to first aid
  • 90% of parents admit to being ignorant of the most basic first aid guidelines

Many accidents that happen in and around the home can be avoided. By identifying and understanding potential accident risks in the home, you can take some basic safety steps that will keep your children safe and give you peace of mind.

The most common emergencies for babies and toddlers:

  • Choking
  • Burns and scalds
  • Head injuries
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Unconscious or not breathing


When someone is choking it is really frightening and it can be difficult to know the best way to help them. If they are coughing and spluttering, it is best to give them time to see if they can cough the obstruction up themselves. If the person is red in the face, struggling to breathe and unable to make a sound, their airway is completely blocked and they need urgent help fast!

People can choke on all sorts of things – but anything that is small enough to fit through a toilet roll is a potential choking hazard. Small objects are generally easier to dislodge than things such as balloons that stick more firmly in the airway. When chopping up food be careful to avoid slicing them into perfect circles, instead go for small pieces or batons which, if someone does choke on them may still allow some air to reach their lungs.

Signs of choking:
Unable to speak or cry, clutching their throat, struggling to breathe

What to do when a child of over 1 year is choking
If a child shows signs of choking, stay calm and ask them to cough to help remove the object.
If they are unable to cough:
Bend the child forward, supporting them on their chest with one hand and with the other hand; use the flat of your hand to give a sharp back blow between the shoulder blades.
Check to see if the blockage has cleared before giving another blow – give up to 5 back blows checking each time to see if the blockage has cleared.

If the back blows haven’t helped get an ambulance on the way

If the blockage hasn’t cleared after five blows, the next stage is to do an abdominal thrust/Heimlich manoeuvre: ·
Stand behind the child and place one hand in a fist under their rib cage. Use the other hand to pull up and under in a J shaped motion, to dislodge the obstruction. Perform abdominal thrusts up to 5 times, checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared. Anyone who has received abdominal thrusts must be seen by a doctor.

If the child is still choking, call 999 (or 112) and alternate five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until emergency help arrives. If at any point the child becomes unconscious, commence CPR.

What to do when a baby is choking
Babies under 1 year
First look in the baby’s mouth and if there is something obvious in the mouth, remove it with finger tips.
DO NOT put your fingers down a baby or child’s throat, or finger sweep the mouth, as this can make matters worse by pushing the obstruction further down or by causing swelling.
Lay the baby downwards on your forearm, across your legs, supporting them under their chin and using the flat of your hand, give a firm back blow between the shoulder blades.
Give up to five back blows and check between each blow to see if the blockage has cleared. If the obstruction has not come out – get an ambulance on the way
If the blockage hasn’t cleared, lay the baby on their back, place two fingers in the centre of the chest just below the nipple line and give up to five chest thrusts. (the same place as you push when doing chest compressions on a baby)

Warning: Never do an abdominal thrusts on a baby under a year as you could cause damage.

Check to see if the blockage has cleared between each chest thrust.
If baby is still choking, call 999/112 and continue alternate five back blows and five chest thrusts until emergency help arrives.

If at any point baby becomes unconscious, commence CPR.

What to do once the obstruction comes out: 
If they are unconscious but breathing – put in the recovery position
If they are unconscious and not breathing start CPR
If they seem absolutely fine – ensure that they don’t have problems swallowing, check there is no pain or bleeding – it is always advisable to have them checked out by a medical professional. If it is not your child, ensure that you have contacted the parents.

If the child has been given abdominal thrusts or chest thrusts, they should always be checked by a medical professional

Look out for our next newsletter when we will talk a bit more about another common emergency for babies and toddlers and how best to deal with it.

Big thank you to Emma from First Aid for Life for writing the article for us.