First Aid is not open heart surgery

We have been asked recently what the main things are a parent will gain from doing a First Aid course.

The main point we are teaching parents is that it is better to do something than nothing. We focus to make parents confident that they can handle a First Aid situation. We tell parents that First Aid is not open heart surgery. It starts with holding the child’s hand and reassuring her/him that everything will be okay.

It is amazing and sometimes scary how little many parents know about safety in the home as well as very basic First Aid techniques.

Our catch phrase we use in our classes is “It is better to know First Aid and not need it than to need and not know it!” I think it sums it up nicely.

Here are a few tips for parents on what to do in an emergency:

The first and most important piece of advice is “stay calm”. Most parents’ instinct in an emergency situation is to panic. No parent would want to see their child hurt or injured.

However it is crucial that the parent keeps their nerves and reassures the child. Otherwise the situation can further escalate as you might not be able to treat child appropriately.

  • Don’t run to the child – this might even put the parent in danger
  • Check if the scene of the accident is safe – an injured parent can’t help the child
  • Talk calmly to the child and play down any injury
  • Reassure her/him that everything will be okay

Don’t be shy to ask for help! Many parents are well able to look after other children when they get hurt. However this ability disappears for many when it’s their own child.

Ask friends, neighbours or by-passers for help.

We have regularly “visitors” from the neighbourhood with injured kids. That ranges from nosebleeds, bee stings, and high temperatures to broken glass in the foot.

All of these situations could have been handled by the parents themselves but they felt the needed some help.

So don’t be afraid to ask help. There is no point to try to be the hero parent if you feel you can’t handle the situation.

All parents should talk to their children about potential emergency situations and what to do. It is important that even very young children know at least the emergency numbers and what to say if they have to use them. Don’t forget it could the adult who is in need of help!

  • Use roll play as part of your family dinner, i.e. “What is number for the ambulance?”, “Can you tell the lady on the phone where you live?”
  • Make sure children know the address where they live off by heart.
  • Ask your child if they would know a landmark where they live, i.e. “our house has bright red shutters” – this could be vital to direct an ambulance especially in modern housing estates where all houses look the same

Even young children can be taught how to put somebody into the recovery position and how to open somebody’s airway. This can easily be taught through play and can be a potential life saver.

If you have any other tips please let us know as we are always eager to learn. Click here to find out about our first aid courses in Dublin.

Keep your children safe at Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner. It’s a great time to be enjoyed by families and most of all children.

Unfortunately it is also a very dangerous time as statistics and newspaper reports prove every year. The excitement of adults and children makes them forget to be careful.

Follow our simple safety tips and enjoy a happy Halloween.

It all starts with the Pumpkin – make sure that children don’t handle sharp knifes to carve it. The carving should only be done by an adult but leave the cleaning of the inside to the kids. Don’t place burning candles inside when young children are around.

Next is the costume and accessories. Check the label to ensure it is flame resistant especially if you plan to visit a bonfire. This applies to wigs and face masks too!

Make sure the costume is not too long. The last thing you need is your child tripping and falling.

Kids don’t feel the cold and think a costume is warm enough. Insist that warm clothes are being worn underneath.

Use good quality face paints to ensure they are toxin free and don’t cause an allergic reaction.

If your child insists on bringing a knife, sword or pitch fork make sure they are small and of soft material to prevent injuries

The best part of Halloween for the children is the Trick – or – Treating. Before you leave the house talk to your children about some safety rules, i.e. use the footpath only, be extremely careful when crossing the road. Set out a route and agree on which streets you will be visiting.

Younger children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult while older children should only go on the hunt for treats in groups.

Give each child a torch – to see and to be seen! It reduces the risk of falls and increases the chances that the little vampires will be seen by cars.

Stay away from strangers – Speak to your children before you go trick-or-treating about “stranger danger”. Do not allow children to go into people’s houses.

Children should only go to houses where there is an outside light turned on and you know the residents. Bring younger children to the door of each house.

Be aware of the risk of choking! Children don’t want to wait to get home to start ploughing through their sweets. Make sure children are not eating small sweets and run at the same time. This can be very dangerous. Take a little break and let them enjoy a treat while you are with them.

Read our First Aid tips for choking incidents before you leave the house!

Only let them have wrapped sweets and chocolates. Discard home-made treats (unless you know the person who produced the goodies and trust their cooking skills)

If you are a motorist on the night – please be extra vigilant! Drive slowly especially when you are in residential estates. Don’t forget that the children will be very distracted.

Pay attention when you enter a drive way. Always be prepared that a child might come running behind a parked car.

Adhere to these tips and we should all have a great Halloween.



Window blind safety tips

We were shocked to hear the tragic story of  the two year old toddler Dean Patrick from Kerry who became entangled in the cord of a blind and subsequently died. The Dublin City coroner said the looped cord on blinds had caused the death of several infants in Dublin and elsewhere.

As part of our Paediatric First Aid courses in Dublin we always advise participants of ways to child proof their homes. This sad event shows that every parent has to be vigilant and constantly scan the house for potential dangers.

When I started to look closer at this particular issue I discovered that strangulation from looped blind cords are not uncommon. There are whole websites dedicated to raise awareness. One of the most impressive website and blog is

In its archive there are articles for every month starting in February 2010!! The tragic stories are overwhelming.

So please follow these simple steps:

  • Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or high chair near a window so they may reach a blind cord
  • Do not place furniture near a window that a child could climb on to reach a blind cord
  • Do make sure that a safety device is fitted to keep the cords taut or out of reach

Safety devices are available and can be easily fitted to most existing blinds. Here is just one website we found were devises can be purchased:

The National Consumer Agency has published a leaflet in 2010 for consumers and retailers on window blind cords and safety steps to take to with cord loops on roller blinds, venetian blinds or vertical blinds. Click to view the document click on the link below.


The following video clip makes the dangers very visual. Be warned that this not suitable for the faint-hearted! It shows very graphically what can happen when a child gets entangled.