Minor accidents and unintentional childhood injuries are not unusual in the child care setting. Even with careful supervision, children frequently sustain scrapes, bruises, cuts, bites, and falls in the normal course of their day. Less frequently, medical emergencies such as seizures, asthma attacks, and allergic reactions may require immediate intervention and treatment. Providing a safe environment and responding to accidents and injuries in a timely and professional manner are essential caregiver responsibilities. Let's take a look at how to stock your first aid kit so that you are prepared to handle any emergency.
First Aid Kits
A fully stocked first aid kit must be available at all times, with a sufficient quantity of supplies to meet the needs of the enrolled children. In large centers, additional kits should be located throughout the facility for easy access. First aid kits and equipment must be accessible to providers at all times, but kept out of the reach of children. Proper access and safe storage can be facilitated by keeping supplies in a locked box that can be readily transported to the needed location.
While recommendations about the content of first aid kits vary somewhat, every kit should include these essentials:
- Disposable, non-porous gloves
- Adhesive Band-Aids of assorted sizes
- Sealed packages of alcohol wipes or antiseptic wipes
- Bandage tape
- Sterile gauze pads (2" and 3" )
- Flexible roller gauze (1" and 2" widths)
- Triangular bandages
- Small splints
- Cold pack
- Safety pins
- Eye dressings
- Syrup of ipecac (and instructions for use)
- Insect sting preparation
- Resealable plastic bags (one gallon size) for soiled materials
- Pen/pencil and notepad
- Current First Aid Guide (Academy of Pediatrics or American Red Cross)
- Emergency phone numbers (911 emergency notification, Poison Control Center, etc.)
- Coins for pay phone
- Emergency medications or supplies prescribed for each child with special health needs
Supplies should be replenished immediately after use. To ensure a current first aid kit, a designated person should check each kit on a monthly basis for outdated items or expired medications. This is particularly important in the case of emergency drugs such as epinephrine injection, asthma medications, and syrup of ipecac. A sample checklist for first aid kits is available from the California Child Care Health Program (www.childcarehealth.org). Remember to keep an extra first aid kit (one per child care group) available to accompany children and facility persons on any field trip away from the facility. Each vehicle in which children are transported should also be equipped with a complete first aid kit and emergency contact information for transported children.
Children with health conditions such as allergies, asthma, diabetes or seizure disorders may require immediate attention/special consideration. The provider should know how to recognize and respond to these individual emergency conditions. The caregiver should also know if special equipment and/or procedures are required in terms of "first aid" and emergency supplies. Be sure these items are maintained in your center's first aid kit as well as for any field trip away from the site.
Maureen Nalle, Ph.D., RN, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Nursing. Dr. Nalle is a Certified Child Care Health Consultant with extensive background in preschool health education and child care health and safety issues. She is currently involved in the training of childcare health consultants for the state of Tennessee.