The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 9 million children seek emergency care for injuries each year, many as the result of falls. A number of household injuries, including falls, can be easily treated with a basic first aid kit, and assembling a kids’ kit has two benefits. The first deals with avoiding infection. Children, when properly trained, may immediately clean a minor injury, which reduces the risk of infection. Secondly, possession of the kits also impresses on children the risk of injury. Because the child must use the kit repeatedly after certain risky actions, a concrete correlation is made between the behavior and the injuries.
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Select a storage box for the first aid kit. The box should be sturdy and easy to carry (preferably with a handle), and should have a clasp that does not open easily in transport but is simple for a child to open in an emergency. These clasps include a device that the child already has experience opening, such as a lunch pail clasp. Since the kit will be used infrequently, opening it should be a quick process.
Label the kit. The box should be clearly marked as a kids’ first aid kit. It should display a symbol that indicates first aid, such as a red cross or medical emblem, but the design should be different from the adult first aid kit. Make sure the child is well-briefed on the difference between the adult and child kit. The adult kit should have an advanced entry system so that children are prevented from quickly opening the box.
Collect important emergency contact numbers. Print each contact number under the name of the appropriate person or location. Smaller children will require an icon for the location. For instance, contacts for the local hospital should include a hospital icon, the name of the hospital, and at least one telephone contact number. Review the numbers and icons with the children (including whether the area code must be dialed).
Print out or write a list of necessary first aid kit items. Skip any items that are not “child safe.” These include sharp instruments, medications, and any item that is toxic when used incorrectly or not suitable for child use. Include items, such as rounded-top scissors, cold pack, heat pack, space blanket, large-sized bandages and tape, sterile water, moistened towelettes, antibacterial soap and easily removed tops on child-friendly cleansers.
Print out a pictogram on how to use of each of the items. These are available on packaging print directions and from websites online (see Resources section). Enlarge these directions and number the steps, if necessary.
Stock the kit with one item at a time. As the item is placed into the child’s kit, review the purpose of the item and how it is used. While one item a day is recommended, several items may be reviewed in each day, but no more than three at a time (especially with younger children). Use the pictogram as the item is used and allow time for the child to demonstrate the use of the item in a relaxed setting.
Print a current stocking list. This should remain in the kit at all times. When an item is used from the kit, replace consumables and inspect reusable items to ensure that they were not damaged and still work properly.
Periodically review the instructions with the children. Select an item from the kit each month and, using the pictogram, review its use.