The summer has arrived at last! Just imagine… are enjoying the glorious sunshine on a family day out by the pool. All of a sudden, you hear a scream. A child is lying face down in a small pool of water. What would you do? Hope somebody knows CPR? Call for a doctor or nurse to help? Call for an ambulance?

Babies and toddlers drown silently and can drown in as little as 5cm of water*

Most drowning’s involving two to three-year-olds happen in the home and garden*

These statistics do not make for light reading but the information they hold have the power to fill every parent with dread at the impending summer holiday’s coming up.

Summer activities

I have been asked many times to deliver training specifically for a pool or water settings as parents are taking their children away on holiday and water becomes a major factor in the summer activities.  Accidents do happen, it is knowing what to do that matters!

“Check for safety around you and get help as quickly as possible” In regards to drowning where the casualty is not breathing, time is of the essence and the need to carry out prompt, effective Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is invaluable in keeping the brain oxygenated.

CPR seems to be the thing that most people are afraid of or know very little about. The fear of getting things wrong or being sued if you hurt somebody can outweigh the importance of the procedure. Interestingly enough, nobody has ever been successfully sued for giving first aid to another person. Note, however, the successfully part of that sentence……. Whatever the outcome, it will always be better to do something than nothing.

Ok, so that’s the ‘worst case scenario’ part of this article… what about the everyday things that could take place over what we hope will be a scorcher of a summer?

Let’s look at a couple of the other problems you may come across this year

Sun safety is a hot subject and I remind parents that all under 4’s are unable to regulate their own temperature because the thermometer in the brain, (the hypothalamus) is underdeveloped. This means that us parents need to monitor them closely!  This includes providing an on-going supply of cold drinks, ensuring that they are wearing suitable clothes, engineering that they spend ample time out of the direct sunlight, and reapplying sun lotion regularly.

If your child feels unwell in the evening, you need to ascertain whether they are suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke, as there is a big difference.  If they have lost their appetite, look pale, are sweating, confused and suffering body cramps, it is most probably heat exhaustion which is a reaction to the body’s loss of salt, water and minerals.  They need to drink lots of water followed by a weak salt solution (1 tsp salt per litre of water) and see a doctor straight away (even if appear to recover quickly).

Heat Stroke

If your child is not sweating but suffering a severe headache, restless, confused and showing flushed hot and dry skin – this could be a result of heat stroke.  This is a serious condition and means that the body’s inbuilt thermostat, (that hypothalamus thingy again) has failed totally – call 999 immediately then take the child to a cool place and, if possible, wrap the child in a cold wet sheet.  Continue wetting the sheet until the child’s temperature has returned to normal (37 degrees) and then replace the wet sheet with a dry one.  If you do not have access to a sheet then fan the child whilst sponging them down with a cold flannel or spraying them with a spray bottle filled with cool/ tepid water until the temperature has returned to normal.

Wasp Stings

Another common ailment affecting the young can be bee and wasp stings. If your child is stung by a wasp or bee, would you grab a pair of tweezers from your make up bag and automatically tug out the sting?  Most people would, but this will actually squeeze the sting bulb to release additional poison into the skin. The correct procedure is to use a long fingernail or stiff card and scrape the sting away from the wound at the angle that it entered.  It should come out easily, and once it does, simply hold a cold compress on the wound for 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them for a while and watch out for anaphylactic reaction as this is a potentially fatal condition.

These are just some of the things that you could learn if you decided to invest as little as £20 in a First Aid Training workshop and in just two hours it really is possible to learn the skills that could save a life.

Not every case has a positive outcome…..not every life can be saved but knowing what to do could make all the difference.

* Source: CAPT (Child Accident Prevention Trust)