Scrapes, scratches, grazes and minor burns are part and parcel of our family lives with children. But do you know what to do when accidents happen, and do you have the basic first-aid equipment at home to help your children straight away? Having a well-stocked first-aid kit for kids is a must-have in any Singapore home, car and holiday suitcase. Sometimes, when you see blood and you’re in a panic, finding band aids and dressing wounds can be super stressful if you don’t have all the essential bits and bobs in one place. Here’s how to put together your ready-to-go family first-aid kit, as well as information about recommended first-aid courses in Singapore to prepare yourself (and maybe teach your helper some new skills too)…
First, know this:
IN AN EMERGENCY, IN SINGAPORE CALL 995
Building your box
We visited Watson’s pharmacy in Takashimaya. It’s a large, well-stocked pharmacy and the pharmacist was most helpful. She advised us to consider pure aloe vera instead of disinfectant on the sensitive skin of babies under a year of age. Babies also bleed a lot from wounds to the hands, feet or head. Our friendly pharmacist advised us to apply light pressure, with a clean hand, for up to five minutes to ease bleeding before bandaging.
A medical kit should be kept separate from the first-aid kit. Your medical kit can contain painkillers, antihistamines, a thermometer etc, but in a fluster (i.e. when you’re faced with blood), you want your first-aid essentials to be easy to find and easy to see in a pared back kit.
Here are the items we recommend storing in a securely sealed box:
The box/bag: Chose a brightly coloured box or bag that is easy to see and store it somewhere easy to find and easy to retrieve. Make sure it’s securely sealed and child-proof.
Surgical gloves: If there’s blood and you’re treating someone else’s child, you’ll want to pop the gloves on ASAP to protect yourself and the child from any blood-transmittable diseases.
Scissors: To cut off clothing or cut up pieces of bandage and gauze.
Tweezers: To remove glass, splinters (consider a specially designed splinter extractor as well! Ask your pharmacist) or bee stingers.
Sterile cotton balls: Wet cotton balls with saline solution to clean wounds, or use to absorb blood.
Butterfly clip and safety pins: To secure large pieces of absorbent gauze.
Thermal blanket: This doesn’t need to be in your first-aid kit, but could be kept nearby or in a special drawer. It’s to minimise heat loss if your child goes into a state of shock after a serious fall or electric shock.
Copies of important documents: It’s a good idea to keep a photocopy of everybody’s passport, including your helper’s, plus your ID cards, medical details such as allergies, and copy of credit card details (if your helper needs to take a child to hospital), and taxi money. Pop these in a sealed envelope in the box.
Hand sanitiser: Sanitise your hands immediately before treating any open wound.
Calamine lotion: For instant relief from hives, rashes and bites. Your first-aid course will teach you how to assess rashes, but calamine lotion is a good start.
Aloe vera: Perfect for burns (after you’ve run them under cold water), sunburn, and, like calamine, any skin irritations. Also the best thing to use in lieu of disinfectant on babies under two years old.
Antiseptic spray: A spray is an ideal solution for grazes that are too painful to touch.
Disinfectant swabs: Use to clean scissors, tweezers, surfaces and to disinfect the skin.
Saline solution: To rinse and wash wounds, scrapes and scratches.
Eye drops: Perfect to rinse out anything irritating the eye. Saline solution, or distilled water, can also be used, but eye drops are gentler.
Burnshields: Designed to stave off infection in more serious burns, and heal the skin more effectively. You can buy Burnshields online.
Band aids: Multi-sized band aids/plasters are a no-brainer for all sorts of cuts and scratches. Clean the area first with sterile water or saline solution, pat dry with sterile cotton balls, disinfect, then secure the band aid.
Microplast: Essentially a breathable, multi-purpose and gentle-on-the-skin sticky tape. Use it to secure gauze or an eyepatch.
Cushioned dressing pads: To gently cover affected areas. Secure them with your microplast.
Elastic cohesive bandage: Great to hold the skin of a nasty cut together before having it assessed if necessary. Can also be used to hold on bandages and gauze.
Absorbent gauze: A multi-purpose essential. It can cover grazes, be cut in pieces and used with the microplast or elastic bandage to cover wounds, folded over to put on the gums in the case of mouth trauma (just be careful of choking hazard in small kids), or used as a light tourniquet if needed (again, a first-aid course will explain when and how to apply a tourniquet).
Eye patch: Once you’ve washed out the eye, if you feel that medical assistance is required, the eye patch will stop your child from rubbing their eyes and causing further irritation.
Think outside the box: first-aid courses
As well as your list of emergency numbers, emergency hospital locations and after-hour clinics (take a look at our emergency response plan), it’s a good idea to do a CPR (CardioPulmonary Resuscitation) and first-aid course (they are often presented together). If you’ve already done one, consider doing a refresher course here in Singapore, especially if it’s been a while, but also to understand how things may be done differently here. Here’s a list of courses in Singapore:
Red Cross Singapore
Red Cross Singapore has many different courses and options to choose from, including refresher courses, helper courses, and in-home demonstrations. Contact them to find out more.
6664 0500; redcross.sg
Singapore Emergency Responder Academy (SERA)
Another fab option for learning new skills or refreshing previous courses. They also offer classes to kids aged from seven upwards, which we think is a great idea.
6866 0663; sera.sg
Singapore First Aid Training Centre
This long-standing organisation has a variety of first-aid courses, both in person and online, to get you up to scratch in no time. It’s skills you hope you never have to use, but are vital to learn.
6297 8123; firstaidtraining.com.sg
St John Singapore
Another trusted company offering valuable emergency life support skills. Courses are available in English and Mandarin, too.
6298 0300; stjohn.org.sg
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What it’s like to resuscitate your baby