Safe and Sound: Common first aid misconceptions

Roma Felstein, co-founder of Safe and Sound First Aid, shares five common first aid misconceptions and explains why up-to-date first aid training is so important, particularly where there may be cultural misunderstandings.

I founded Safe and Sound First Aid together with Tina Lazarus in 1998.

We started the company because we became aware that many au pairs (including our own) were arriving in the UK with little or no first aid knowledge and did not even know what number to call for an ambulance; families often pre-supposed they had this knowledge and didn’t see the need to tell them, and the girls were often too frightened to ask their new employers.

In the late 1990’s, paediatric first aid courses were relatively new and not many parents or au pairs attended them. I like to think that we helped pioneer the importance of learning first aid.

We have since trained thousands of nannies, au pairs and parents in first aid and now provide courses for schools and nurseries across the Capital. Safe and Sound is also one of London’s leading providers of first aid training to doctors, dentists and other health professionals.

I believe the reason for our success is the quality of our training. From the beginning, we decided we wanted the very best teaching which is why our trainers have all worked for the emergency services.  Their extensive, hands-on experience in accident and emergency medicine means they are very well equipped to answer any questions that may arise during the courses.

Interestingly, over the years we have found some of the questions that arise from our au pair and nanny courses come from misconceptions about first aid.  Sometimes this is a cultural issue, such as ‘in my country we put toothpaste on burns’ and others are simply old wives tales handed down through the generations. For my first blog, I have decided to list some common First Aid misconceptions.

Five First Aid Misconceptions

1. Burns “Put butter/antiseptic cream on it"

Never put butter/antiseptic cream on a burn. Instead, cool the burn under cool running water for at least ten minutes to stop the burning and relieve the pain. If cold water is not available, use another cold, harmless liquid such as milk. Apply a non-fluffy dressing.

2. Nose Bleeds "Hold the child's head back and pinch the bridge of the nose"

Treat nose bleeds by sitting the child down with the head tilted forward and pinch the fleshy part of the nostrils together for 10 minutes. Remember to tell the child to breathe through the mouth and spit any blood into a bowl or tissue.

3. Poisoning "Make the child vomit"

Never induce vomiting - it could burn or block the airway. Try to find out what has been swallowed and how much and seek professional medical advice.

4. Choking "Stick your fingers down the child's throat"

Never stick your fingers down a child's throat  - you could cause further obstruction or cause the airway to swell. Start by bending the child forward from the waist and give 5 sharp back blows between the shoulder blades, using the heel of your hand.*

 5. Epilepsy " Put something in the child's mouth for them to bite on"

Never put anything in the mouth of a child during a seizure. Your priority is to keep the child safe until professional medical help arrives. Move furniture or any other obstructions out of the way. Keep calm, so that you can reassure and comfort the child.

The above is not a substitute for professional first aid training. For details of paediatric first aid courses in your area please call Safe and Sound on 0208 445 8998 or go to www.safeandsound.uk.net