When our children return to school after the long summer break, often they appear to have 'grown up' considerably, and they feel ready to conquer the world alone. But as parents, we often worry about the new challenges they will now face; maybe at a bigger school with much older children, or even more worrying for new parents is a child starting school for the first time. Questions such as “Are they going to play nicely with the other children” “Who is going to supervise them on the play equipment” “What if they fall over, I won’t be there to help them”, are all perfectly normal questions to have racing through our minds. The answer is that we have to learn to trust our schools; that they are supervising our children adequately and that our children actually do need to learn these lessons in life, to stand alone away from us and learn to get along with others - and to cope when accidents happen, accepting help from people other than us. We need to educate our young children that it is fine to ask the teachers for help when they are hurt, and also try to teach them to help themselves with common problems like cuts and grazes. Below, we offer simple advice on how to treat common accidents which may occur in the playground, and what to expect when help does arrive.
Cuts and Grazes
These are commonplace with children, especially in the playground where they are playing `tag`, football or on climbing equipment. Usually they are minor cuts and grazes, but to a small child, they can be very upsetting. The area should be gently cleaned, preferably under running water, or alternatively, using a non-alcoholic antiseptic wipe, and gently dried. If the area is bleeding heavily it should be elevated if possible and pressure applied to the wound to stem the bleeding. Once this has been achieved, a clean dressing such as non adherent gauze or a simple plaster should be applied to avoid infection. For simple cuts and grazes the child should be advised to remove the dressing once at home and allow the clean air to help start the healing process.
Bumps and Bruises
Children very often fall and bump their heads, arms and legs, particularly if they are climbing on outdoor activity frames. These bumps are rarely serious, but do cause considerable distress to the child concerned. Generally, climbing frames are always well supervised and so accidents are kept to a minimum. However, a bump to the head should never be treated lightly and should always be investigated. As long as the child has not been knocked out and is not feeling dizzy or sick, a simple cold compress applied to the area to help alleviate any bruising should be all that is required. If the child is feeling sick or dizzy, they need to be supervised closely, until they feel better, and if after a short while or so they appear to be sleepy and not improving, medical help should be sought. A child should never be given any form of pain relief if he has hit his head, as this may mask signs and symptoms of a more serious problem. If the child has lost consciousness, or is violently sick, the carer should seek medical assistance straight away.
When children fall it is quite common for them to sustain `greenstick fractures`, particularly their arms. These are simple fractures, in young soft bones, which heal very quickly. As a general rule, any child who falls and lands on a limb and complains of severe pain either in a limb or joint, a sprain or break should always be considered. The limb should be immobilised, either with a sling for arm/hand injuries and placed as high on the chest as possible, or in the case of a leg injury they should not be moved, and medical help should be sought immediately. Again, pain relief should not be given, neither should the child be given anything to eat or drink, just in case they may need treatment at the hospital.
Insect Bites and Stings
Usually a sting from a bee, wasp or hornet is more painful than dangerous. The initial sharp pain is usually followed by mild swelling and redness. However, a sting inside the mouth is potentially dangerous because the swelling can obstruct the airway. In this case the child should be given either ice to suck or very cold water to sip, and if swelling starts an ambulance should be called. With all other stings any visible sting should be brushed or scraped off with your fingernail, never use tweezers because the poison could be forced into the skin and cause more problems. Elevate the area if possible and apply an ice pack or something cold. If the swelling and/or pain persist medical help should be sought.
Remember, your child’s health and wellbeing is as important to his/her teachers and carers, as it is to you. UK legislation requires that you should be contacted if your child sustains an injury and in the case that you cannot be contacted, a person you have nominated will be contacted instead. For this reason, it is important always to notify your child's school of any changes in contact numbers.