Protecting Your Child From Creatures That Slither, Nest, Spin and Bite In The Playground.

By Nicole Ovens, CPR Kids Operations Manager and Midwife

As a CPR Kids Educator, the safety and wellbeing of our children is always on my mind. I often sit and ponder about how, as a guardian and protector of children we, could do more, much more, to ensure they are safe.

A recent article in a newspaper reporting that a snake was found in a playground on the Northern Beaches of Sydney motivates me to write this. Reflecting on this article, I wondered why I had only given a fleeting thought to reptiles, mini beasts and other little critters lurking, camouflaged and unseen where our children are playing.  I’m a mother after all, a carer of children.

Often playgrounds are located in leafy areas and even if they weren’t, there is the attraction for “unwelcome” visitors to nest, spin a web, slither and fly where our children are playing. In most cases, we can coexist harmoniously, but would you know what to do if your child sustained a bite or sting? 

Some bites from ants, bees or wasps cause only minor discomfort and a localised irritation. A hug, a kiss and a cold compress after removing the sting in the case of a bee will do the trick in relieving the pain, however, it is important to know that multiple bites or bites and stings to the face can be very serious and require prompt first aid and medical attention. Some children who are susceptible may have an anaphylactic reaction, which if untreated is life threatening. 

When it comes to ticks, ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) has current guidelines for tick removal. It is imperative that we familiarise ourselves with these guidelines in order to know the correct way to respond to a tick bite. The link below will give you this up to date information.

Other important lifesaving information can be found at:

“Australian Bites and Stings: First Aid Guide to Australian Venomous Creatures”. See link below:

Children love to explore and are adventurous and carefree. That is the beauty of childhood and we would never want it any other way, however, because of this they are at risk. When in the playground, it is always important that the playground equipment and the surrounding areas are inspected for any signs of colonisation of spiders. Red back spiders can dwell under steps, inside cubbyhouses and under logs. It is a medical emergency if a child is bitten by a redback spider. These bites cause extreme pain. If this happens to your child, keep them calm, apply ice, give analgesia and seek immediate medical help. Another dangerous spider is the funnel web spider who is a ground dweller and lives in holes found under leaf debris, branches, logs, rocks and shrubs.  A bite from a funnel web spider is life threatening so you must respond quickly and calmly. Contact 000 immediately. Do not clean the venom off the bite. Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage from below the bite and continue to bandage upwards covering the entire limb leaving the fingers and toes exposed. This can be done over clothing. Ensure that the bandage is not applied too tightly so that it impairs circulation. Apply a splint to the limb using anything that is rigid enough to support the weight of it such as a branch or rolled up magazines or newspapers. A second bandage can be used to keep this in place. Try and keep the child as still and calm as possible by giving reassurance and distraction. Do not apply a tourniquet. If the child becomes unconscious with abnormal or no breathing, commence CPR immediately.

If your child has been bitten by a snake the first aid is the same as for funnel web spider bites.

If a child is having a anaphylactic reaction to a bite or sting you may see the following signs:

  • Difficult/noisy breathing
  • Swelling of tongue
  • Swelling/tightness in throat
  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • Wheeze or persistent cough
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (young children)
  • Vomiting and/or abdominal pain for insect stings/bites

Immediate First Aid is required!

  1. Remove allergen if still present.
  2. Call 000 for assistance.
  3. Lay the child flat. Do not allow them to stand or walk. If breathing is difficult, allow them to sit.
  4. If the child becomes unconscious with abnormal or no breathing; DRSABC - commence CPR immediately. 


A very important safety consideration is that children must always wear shoes when playing to minimise any risk of being bitten on the feet. Talk with children about the importance about not touching any mini beasts or spiders and to never approach a snake. Adult supervision in the playground or outside is also an absolute necessity.

Do you have a first aid kit in the car that is useful? Are you ready to respond to an emergency if you are faced with one? Are you confident with DRSABCD? Do you know how to perform effective CPR on a child and are you confident that you could recognise if a child needed this? If you answered yes to those questions, congratulations!  We love to hear that parents and carers of children are equipped with the skills they need in an emergency. At CPR Kids we want every child to have the best outcome when sick or injured. Knowing what to do in an emergency will ensure this happens. 

If you answered no to the questions, or you’re feeling a little “rusty”, let CPR Kids empower you today so you competent in the lifesaving skills you may need to respond to a child! We would love to help you feel confident if ever you are faced with any of these situations.

Contact CPR Kids on 02 8076 5711 or email