First Aid and Safety Tips to Keep Kids Safe


What Does "First Aid" mean?

First aid is the immediate care given to an injured or suddenly ill person.  It is the temporary assistance that is rendered until competent medical care is obtained or until the likelihood of recovery without that care is certain.

Properly applied first aid can reduce recovery time and may mean the difference between temporary vs. lifelong disability for the victim.  Ultimately, in certain situations, it can mean the difference between life and death.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is a life-saving procedure that is performed when a victim's breathing or heartbeat has stopped, as in cases of drowning, suffocation, choking, heart attack or other injuries. 

How to do CPR on a child (ages 1-12 years)


How to Keep Yourself Safe When Rendering First Aid

Proper precautions for infection control should be used by all providers when there is any contact with body fluids, secretions, and excretions (except sweat). This involves proper hand washing, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and taking precautions when handling or possibly coming in contact with a child’s bodily fluids.

It is not possible to identify an infected child by their appearance or to always identify the source of body fluids.  A good rule to follow is to always place a barrier between you and any moist or wet substance originating from another person.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to block entry into the body.  The most common type of equipment is gloves.   Disposable gloves should be worn whenever there is a possibility that you will come into contact with a child’s body fluids.  Because some children are highly allergic to latex, non-latex (nitrile) gloves should be available. 

In a school or daycare setting, it is important to practice standard precautions at all times with all children.  Good common sense, updated shots and proper protective equipment are important.  Appropriately stocked first aid kits should be regularly maintained with an inventory check list and properly stored in a designated location.

Practice Good Hygiene - washing hands with soap and water at appropriate times.

Take extra care with blood - wear gloves, cover open sores and cuts, teach children (age appropriate) how to properly care for their own cuts and how to dispose of used band aids.  Clean up spills immediately with proper disinfectant.  Be familiar with additional protective devices such as protective eyewear, aprons, CPR masks, etc.  Bloodborne Pathogens training is highly recommended.

Proper technique for removing gloves:

  1. Grab the outside of the glove to be removed near the top of the glove with the other gloved hand
  2. Peel the glove slowly off of the hand, holding onto the glove once removed
  3. Using the ungloved hand, slide your fingers inside the top of the gloved hand and peel the second glove down over the first glove
  4. Dispose of both gloves in the appropriate container

Watch video on glove removal technique


Basic First Aid Guidelines

Once you have determined that there is an emergency and that your help is needed, the following are some practical and pertinent things to remember:

  • Stay calm. Take three deep breaths to relax yourself first.  Panic increases the anxiety of the injured child as well as those around you.
  • Visually assess the situation to ensure that the area is safe.  Continue to follow the 3-stages of the Assess, Alert, Attend model for the scene and individual.
  • Communicate clearly and reassuringly with the injured child.  Smile and speak slowly, using words they will understand.
  • Use a non-threatening position, kneeling or eye level with the injured child
  • Ask the child’s name and use it frequently
  • Do not try to separate the injured child from their parent or loved one
  • Gain trust by explaining what you are doing before you do it


When to Call EMS

Call EMS if the child:

  • Is unconscious or becomes unconscious
  • Has chest pain or pressure
  • Has difficulty breathing*
  • Is bleeding severely or uncontrollably
  • Has severe pain or pressure in the abdomen
  • Is passing or vomiting blood
  • Has slurred speech, severe headache, or seizures
  • Has a possible head or spinal injury
  • Has possible broken bones
  • Has possibly been poisoned

* Respiratory Distress Signals:

  • Rapid breathing, >30/min
  • Irregular breathing
  • Wheezing, gurgling or is making a high-pitched noise when breathing
  • Shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Skin that appears flushed, bluish, or is pale in color









An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Indoor safety tips:

  • Install smoke detectors on the ceiling in the hallway outside areas where children sleep or nap and on each floor at the top of the stairs
  • Test the alarm monthly and replace batteries twice a year; like in the fall and spring when we have time changes
  • Make sure there are 2 unobstructed emergency exits from the home, childcare center, classroom, or other areas where children are likely to be present
  • Develop and practice a fire escape plan
  • Make sure that a working fire extinguisher is available
  • Make sure all space heaters are safety approved and in safe operating condition with protective covers.  They should be placed out of a child’s reach and at least 3 feet from curtains, paper, furniture, or clothing
  • Make sure all wood-burning stoves are inspected yearly, vented properly, and out of a child’s reach
  • Install “shock stops” (plastic outlet plugs) or outlet covers on all electrical outlets
  • Prevent infant falls by always keeping a hand on them while they are sitting or lying on a high surface; like a changing table
  • Place healthy full-term infants on their back to sleep.  DO NOT place infants on their stomach to sleep.
  • Make sure the baby’s crib is safe:
    • The crib mattress should fit snugly with no more than 2 fingers’ width between the mattress and the crib railing
    • To prevent the infant’s head from getting caught in the crib slats, the distance between crib slats should be less than 2 3/8th inches     
    • DO NOT put any fluffy material, stuffed animals, or fluffy blankets or comforters in the crib with the infant
    • Keep the crib away from loose curtains and blind cords which can pose a strangulation hazard
    • Only use bumper pads that are thin, firm, and well-secured.
  • Be sure that stairs, railings, porches, and balconies are strong and in good repair
  • Prevent falls by keeping halls and stairs well lighted
  • Place toddler gates at the top and bottom of stairs.  DO NOT use accordion-type gates with wide spaces at the top.  These can trap the child’s head causing strangulation
  • Do not let your child use an infant walker
  • Put locks on all windows and gates on the lower part of open windows
  • Store ALL medicines and vitamins in child-resistant containers out of a child’s reach
  • Keep purses that contain vitamins, medicines, cigarettes, matches, jewelry, and calculators (easy-to-swallow button batteries) out of a child’s reach
    • Store cleaning products out of sight and reach
    • Store and label all household poisons in their original containers in high locked cabinets, NOT under the sink
    • DO NOT store chemicals or poisons in soda bottles
  • Store cleaning products away from food
  • Install safety latches or locks on cabinets that contain potentially dangerous items and are within a child’s reach
  • Install a lock or hook-and-eye latch at the top of the door to the basement or garage to keep children from entering those areas
  • Keep plants that may be harmful out of a child’s reach.  Many plants are poisonous.  Check with the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
  • Make sure that toy chests have lightweight lids, no lids, or safe- closing hinges

Kitchen safety:

  • Reduce the risk of burns by:
    • Keeping hot liquids, food, and cooking utensils out of a child’s reach
    • Putting hot liquids and food away from the edge of the table
    • Cooking on the back burners when possible
    • Turning pot handles toward the center of the stove
    • Avoid using tablecloths and placemats that can be pulled, spilling hot liquids or food
    • Keeping high chairs and stools away from the stove
    • Teaching young children to meaning of the word HOT
  • Remember to keep knives and other sharp objects out of a child’s reach
  • Prevent choking by:
    • Keep all foods and small items (including balloons) that can that can choke a child out of reach
    • Test toys to see if they can be easily swallowed by using a toilet paper roll.  If a toy can fit inside the roll, it can choke a small child    
    • Cut children’s food into bite size pieces.  Foods to be especially careful with are:  grapes, hotdogs, raw carrots, celery sticks
    • Avoid giving a child foods that cause choking like:  peanuts, hard candy, popcorn.
    • DO NOT let the child eat while playing or running

Bathroom safety:

  • Children should be bathed in no more than 2 inches of water.
  • Stay with infants and young children throughout the bath time
  • DO NOT leave infants or toddlers in the bathtub in the care of young siblings
  • Use skid-proof mats or stickers in the bathtub to prevent slipping
  • Adjust the maximum temperature of the water heater to 120 to 130 degrees F (48.9-54.4 º C) or medium heat
  • Test the temperature of the bath water with a thermometer
  • Keep ALL electrical appliances out of the bathroom or unplugged and away from water or a child’s reach

Outdoor safety tips:

  • Make sure playground equipment is assembled and anchored correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • The playground area should be level with a cushioned surface such as sand or wood chips
  • Make sure children know the rules of safe bicycling:
    • Wear a protective helmet
    • Use the correct size bicycle
    • Ride on the right side of the road (with traffic)
    • Use proper hand signals
    • Wear bright or reflective clothing
  • DO NOT allow children to play with fireworks
  • Make sure children are protected when roller skating or skateboarding:
    • Wear a helmet
    • Wear protective pads on the knees and elbows
    • Skate only in rinks or parks that are free of traffic
  • Make sure children are properly protected while participating in contact sports:
    • Proper adult instruction and supervision should be provided
    • Teammates are about the same weight and size
    • Appropriate safety equipment is being used
  • Reduce the risk of animal bites by teaching children:
    • How to handle and care for their pet(s)
    • NEVER to try to separate fighting animals, even when their pet(s) is/are involved
    • To avoid unfamiliar animals


NOTE: For child care providers, no information in this article supersedes any state regulations you need to follow. You must consult your state’s regulations when developing policies and procedures. Regulations for all states are accessible on the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations.


For more information on first aid and children's safety, try our online classes:

Be Prepared

Child/Infant First Aid

Disaster Preparedness

Keeping Children Safe

Playground Safety

Transportation Safety