Common Paediatric Emergencies

How to Handle Common Paediatric Emergencies

As a parent, nothing is more important than the health and safety of your child. While we strive to create a safe environment, accidents, and emergencies can still occur. Being prepared and knowing how to respond to paediatric emergencies is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss common paediatric emergencies, provide essential first-aid tips, and empower parents with the knowledge and skills to handle these situations effectively. Remember, quick action and proper first aid can make a significant difference in ensuring the well-being of your child.

1. Choking

Choking is a common emergency in children, especially toddlers, who tend to explore objects by putting them in their mouths. If your child is choking, it is essential to act swiftly.
First Aid Tips:
a) For infants (under 1 year old):

  • Support the infant’s face and head and place them face down on your forearm.
  • Deliver firm but gentle back blows between the shoulder blades using the heel of your hand.
  • If the object does not dislodge, turn the infant face up while still supporting the head and perform chest thrusts.

b) For children (over 1 year old):

  • Stand or kneel behind the child and deliver five back blows between the shoulder blades.
  • If the object does not dislodge, perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) by standing behind the child, placing your fist above the navel, and applying upward pressure.

2. Burns

Burns, a pediatric emergency, can occur from hot liquids, flames, chemicals, or electrical sources. Prompt first aid is vital to minimize damage and alleviate pain.
First Aid Tips:
a) Remove the child from the source of the burn and cool the affected area with cool running water for at least 10 minutes.
b) Cover the burn with a clean, non-stick dressing or cloth.
c) Seek medical attention for severe burns, burns involving the face, hands, or genitals, or burns caused by chemicals or electricity.

3. Fever and Seizures

Fever, a paediatric emergency, is common in children and is often harmless. However, high fevers can lead to seizures, known as febrile seizures, which can be frightening for parents.
First Aid Tips:
a) Stay calm and place the child on a flat surface away from any potential hazards.
b) Remove any tight clothing and ensure a clear airway.
c) Do not restrain the child or put anything in their mouth during a seizure.
d) Time the seizure and seek medical attention if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or if it is the child’s first seizure.

4. Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions, a paediatric emergency, can range from mild to severe and can be triggered by food, insect bites, or medications. Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
First Aid Tips:
a) For mild allergic reactions:

  • Remove the allergen if possible.
  • Administer an over-the-counter antihistamine if age-appropriate and as directed.
  • Monitor the child for worsening symptoms.

b) For severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis):

  • Administer epinephrine if available, following the prescribed instructions.
  • Call emergency services immediately.
  • Help the child lie down and raise their legs if they feel lightheaded.
  • Do not give the child anything to eat or drink.

5. Fractures and Sprains

Children are prone to fractures and sprains due to their active lifestyles and developing bones. Recognizing and providing initial care for these injuries is crucial.
First Aid Tips:
a) Immobilise the injured area by using a splint or by supporting it with soft padding and bandages.
b) Apply ice or a cold compress to reduce swelling and pain.
c) Seek medical attention to confirm the diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment.

6. Head Injuries

Head injuries, a paediatric emergency, can range from minor bumps to more severe trauma. It is important to assess the situation and seek medical attention when necessary.
First Aid Tips:
a) For minor head injuries:

  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
  • Monitor the child for any changes in behavior, drowsiness, or vomiting.

b) For severe head injuries:

  • Call emergency services immediately.
  • Keep the child still and support their head and neck.
  • Do not move the child unless it is necessary for their safety.

7. Ingestion of Harmful Substances

Children are naturally curious and may ingest harmful substances, such as household cleaners or medications. Immediate action is crucial to prevent further harm.
First Aid Tips:
a) Remove any remaining substance from the child’s mouth.
b) Call the local poison control center or emergency services for guidance.
c) Do not induce vomiting unless directed by medical professionals.


Being prepared and knowing how to respond to paediatric emergencies is essential for every parent. By familiarizing yourself with common emergencies and learning the appropriate first aid techniques, you can provide immediate care for your child and potentially prevent further complications. However, it is important to remember that first aid is not a substitute for professional medical care. Always seek medical attention for severe emergencies or when in doubt.

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