I reluctantly admit that I'm old enough to have experienced first hand some of the home remedies or "old wives" first aid of the past that has been passed down through generations. I'm somewhat concerned though that some of those treatments continue today and although delivered by well meaning grandparents wrapped in an abundance of care and love they can be damaging to children.
Before proceeding though, it is important to identify who are the carers of children other than parents. In 2014, 837,000 Australian children were cared for by their grandparents during a week when parents were working. Grandparent childcare was most popular for children under the age of 3 years. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra 2015). The need for grandparent care also stems from parents not just working but studying and also for financial reasons. Parents also utilise grandparent care over childcare centres because of childcare affordability, availability and unpredictability.
It has been my experience that grandparents exercise a very high level of care and are incredibly cautious in monitoring a child’s risk-taking behaviour, but, that’s not the point. We do know how unpredictable children can be and accidents unfortunately can happen despite the best and most astute care. Having identified that, it is incredibly important that everyone caring for children, including grandparents know what to do if they are ever faced with an emergency.
In CPR Kids classes our Educators often hear of remedies that are very out dated. Sometimes these treatments have the potential of being very damaging and most certainly are no longer recommended.
All children, during the course of their life will experience a fever, some earlier and more often than others. Grandparents may be the care givers during the course of these illnesses or inexperienced parents will seek the advice and guidance for fever management from their own parents who have dealt with this problem in the past when raising them and their siblings. Quite often, it is difficult for parents to question or contradict the people who they love and who they have a deep respect for and this can cause an increase in parental anxiety, family conflict and ultimately mismanagement of the child.
Common examples of out dated management motivate me to write this. Long gone are the days when a fever was managed by: sweating it out, cold compresses to the neck, groin and behind the knees, cold baths, starving the fever and blowing a fan at high speed onto the child over a wet sheet. These old wives’ remedies do nothing to help. Today, the most important message that health experts and CPR Kids give is ALWAYS LOOK AT THE CHILD regardless of the number on the thermometer and respond accordingly. Comfort care such as cool clothing, frequent small drinks, TLC and rest, correct dose of paracetamol for comfort and observing the child for signs of deterioration is the first line management. Immediate medical assessment is required if the child is pale, floppy, lethargic has reduced feeding and reduced urine output. It is also important that parents trust their “gut instinct” and if there is a high degree of parental concern seek medical advice. Never waste time in pursuing treatments that won’t work.
The first aid treatment for burns today is to hold the burn under cold, running water for no less than 20 minutes. Cooling first aid is recommended because it reduces the pain of the burn, decreases the depth of the burn, prevents fluid imbalance, speeds healing and decreases the risk of scarring. Butter, egg white, toothpaste, tomato sauce, soothing creams and white vinegar which may have been used by grandma in the past should never be used today. This sort of first aid can make matters worse.
These are only two examples of old wives’ remedies that we hear of every day and this is why at CPR Kids we reach out to you and teach the correct, up to date, evidence based first aid. We are also passionate about teaching the community how to prevent accidents and reduce the risks of injury happening. Topics covered in our classes include baby and infant first aid, choking, drowning, poisons, head injury, breathing problems, gastroenteritis, anaphylaxis and so much more.
Together, with your help we can dispel the myths of bygone days and continue to ensure that every child has the correct first aid and treatment initiated if ever it is required. Giving the gift of a CPR Kids class to your parents will empower them with the knowledge they need today. Let us help you to help them by calling us on 80765711 and booking a class for them. A grandparent carer equipped with current, up to date knowledge who knows what to do in an emergency is what your child needs when you are not with them. At CPR Kids we can ensure that happens.
By Nicole Ovens