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The nascent years of parenting are full of indelible "firsts" - your baby's first smile, the first step, the first word and the list goes on interminably. While these special milestones make for pleasant lifelong memories, there are also the other "firsts" which can be agonizing. Like the memory of the first fall! I still distinctly remember the first time my daughter had a nasty fall from the bed. Ouch! She had just begun to commando crawl and was playing on the bed, while I was arranging our clothes in the closet in the same room. I had an eye on her throughout and then just in a split second when I turned around, there was a thud. I couldn't fathom how she reached the corner of the bed so quickly but she did and it was excruciating to see her howl. I panicked and kept checking for any untoward signs. I breastfed her to pacify her and finally, she calmed down and fell asleep on my lap. That day I felt immensely guilty and shed copious tears, blaming myself for the incident and wondering what if some serious injury had occurred. In spite of my mother and other veteran parents reassuring me that every child experiences such falls at some point or the other, it took me a few days to get over the remorse. My mother also narrated some related amusing incidents involving my brother which proved to be some solace.
With time, however, like most parents, I realized and learnt that the falls, getting bruised et al are a part and parcel of childhood. Nonetheless, as mothers we still chide ourselves over such episodes and if we don't, people are quick to make us feel in the wrong by "You should have been more careful" comments. These remarks and advices are probably well-intentioned but unfair nevertheless. Yes, we need to be very vigilant and proactive in keeping the environment safe for our children because their health and safety is of foremost importance. But, it is also not practically possible to keep a watch on them every second of the day and it also doesn't make sense to keep them manacled during the golden years of their life. So along with the “preventive” approach, we also need to be equipped to attend to any unexpected occurrences instead of wallowing in guilt for what is not in our hands.
It's summer time and my toddler is having a great time with the kids of all age groups residing in my society. Their routine has gone for a complete toss but it is acceptable because after all, they deserve to enjoy their summer vacations to the fullest. The kids play in the park late in the night at times, they indulge in water play, they go berserk when together and jump around like monkeys, and while all of these things pose different risks like injuries, sunburns or bug bites, I do not fret and let her have uninhibited fun with her friends.
I always keep a basic first aid kit ready and handy about which I have time and again mentioned in some of my articles. For the benefit of all the parents, particularly the new ones, I would like to enlist the items which occupy a place in my kit. According to me, following are the must have items in your summer first aid kit:
Cotton ball or swab - This is absolutely necessary and is required to clean and dry bruises and wounds and also for the purpose of padding. Please avoid using these on deep open wounds as the cotton fibre might break away and stay inside.
Dettol antiseptic liquid – My kit is incomplete without Dettol antiseptic liquid. It is a safe and effective product which can be used to cleanse wounds and can help prevent infection from minor cuts, bites or burns.
Water – I usually carry a bottle of water for my child whenever I step out of the house. But, in case you don’t, it helps to add a small sized one to your kit. During summers, this becomes all the more essential so that the children do not feel dehydrated after all the sweating out in the sweltering heat. This water can also be used for washing the cuts and wounds when the child is hurt.
Medicines as prescribed by paediatrician for pain relief - Please consult your paediatrician and add medicines to your kit which can help provide pain relief to the child in case of uncomfortable throbbing resulting from injuries.
Band Aid – Band Aid can be used as a dressing for small cuts.
Ointment prescribed by paediatrician for bites – My paediatrician has prescribed a wonderful ointment for my child which is very effective for all kinds of sore or itchy insect and mosquito bites. Please check with your doctor for a similar suitable ointment and include it in your kit.
Crepe Bandage – Crepe bandages can be used in case of minor sprains and swellings. They restrict the movement of the affected part of the body and prevent aggravation of the swelling.
Small pair of scissors – The scissors come in aid when we need to cut adhesive tapes or bandages.
Tweezers - Tweezers are an important tool to have in your first aid kit because they can be used to remove debris such as glass, dirt, or splinters from an abrasion which cannot be removed with bare hands.
Ice pack – I always have an ice pack stored in my freezer and I add it to my kit when I head out for a relatively longer duration. Ice pack can provide instant relief from pain and can also help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Small napkin – A small napkin or a towel can be useful to apply pressure on open wounds to impede the oozing of blood. Alternatively, it can also be used to wipe hands or any other form of dirt.
Wet Wipes – Antibacterial wet wipes can be used for sterilizing the first aid kit instruments before use. These are also ideal for instant cleansing and are gentle on skin.
Sunblock/Sunscreen – During summers, I add a sunblock or sunscreen lotion to my first aid kit. That is because when we are out for lengthy hours, we need to reapply the lotion every few hours for it to be 100% effectual in preventing sunburns.
Child Oral Rehydration Solution – This is another critical item to carry because extreme heat can cause severe dehydration in a child at times and one needs to administer ORS as intake of plain water is not sufficient in such cases.
Gauze – First Aid Gauze is a versatile first aid tool and can be quite a savior in many situations. Gauze is porous, non-sticky and absorbent, and hence can soak up excess blood and other body fluids. Gauze can also be used for bandaging as well as securing injured joints when better bandaging is not immediately available.
Aloe Vera gel – This may not be a common item in most first aid kits but it occupies a prominent place in mine. The well-known healing and moisturizing properties of Aloe Vera make it a safe, natural and inexpensive way to soothe burns, bites and scrapes.
Anti Allergy medicines – Some children are allergic to certain insects or plants. Based on the history of your family allergies or the known child allergies, always keep the prescribed medicines handy to alleviate the allergy related symptoms that might crop up while playing in locations like parks.
Hand Sanitizer – Before and after administering first aid to anyone, always follow the hygienic practice of sanitizing your hands using a hand sanitizer, especially when there is no facility of washing hands around.
Child friendly lip gel – We generally associate dry skin with winters but the fact is that the hot and arid summers also play havoc with the moisture balance of the skin. This can lead to chapped lips and prolonged exposure to the sun can worsen the situation. I personally experienced this with my child and it took a few days for her lips to heal completely. Since then, I always ensure I carry a lip gel in my first aid kit.
Latex gloves – It is recommended that a first aider should wear disposable gloves whenever there is a possibility of contact with bodily fluids. I am comfortable with latex gloves and hence, my kit always houses a pair of disposable latex gloves.
Thermometer – The use of a thermometer needs no explanation. This is the only way by which one can check for fever when needed so that requisite actions can be taken accordingly.
Does your First Aid kit contain any other items/tools which are useful but have been missed here? Please do share so that I can include it in here and make it an exhaustive list that is valuable for all parents.