12 First Aid Skills Every Parent Needs to Know

There are books on child development and books on what to expect when you're going to have a baby or when that baby heads to college. Nobody ever mentions how many times you're going to save your kids' lives. What parents really need is a manual on the most important first aid skills every parent needs to know.

Whether your children are 20 days, 20 months or 20 years old, these first aid skills are a must for you to know. Besides these first aid skills, you should also know how to make an emergency escape plan and how to teach your kids to call 911 and stop, drop and roll.


When to Call 911

Sometimes, you just have to call out the big guns. (c) Rod Brouhard

Let's start with the serious stuff. It might not sound like a first aid skill, but knowing when to punt is important. When your kids need help now, you can't hesitate. Look at the list, print it out and paste it on the first aid kit and on the phone.

In a nutshell, if your kid's not breathing or you can't wake her up, call 911. There are other times, though, so read the list.


How to Do CPR

cpr on a child
Every parent's worst nightmare. Dori OConnell/Getty Images

You might think changing diapers in mid-air without touching the counter in the public restroom is impressive, but CPR is the most important skill you will ever learn. 911 operators might be able to give instructions for CPR, but babies need to get a minute of CPR before you even call 911 . It should be mandatory for every parent to learn CPR.


How to Stop a Bloody Nose

Sad worried woman holding a paper tissue
Zinkevych / Getty Images

 Kids pick their noses—I know; it's shocking. All that rooting around for gold puts them at risk for getting back more than they bargain for. If Junior is too interested in getting the bats out of the cave, you'd better know how to stop his bloody nose before he spews all over the new white carpet. For the record: I don't recommend white carpet with kids.


How to Dress a Wound

boy with abrasion
Fixing wounds is really parent healthcare 101. Image Source/Getty Images

Skinned knees and elbows require Mom Care (you know, one part Band-Aid application and five parts hugs and kisses). Dads need not apply. Which is good, because dads—and I know, because I am one—just tell our kids to "suck it up" and stop crying. It heals, eventually.


How to Treat a Burn

girl with sparkler
Burns tend to ruin great moments. Kelly Sillaste/Getty Images

 No matter how many times you tell Suzie to be careful around the oven, she is sure to touch it—or the stove, heater, fireplace, toaster, candle or that glowing coil thingy in the hair dryer—at least once. When she gets a burn, do you know what to do?


How to Save a Choking Baby

learning to save a choking baby
Keeping the baby's head low is an important step. Jules Selmes/Getty Images

 One day my wife (an EMT) was standing at the ER door with a bunch of paramedics, myself included. A woman with a baby rushes up to us saying her daughter is choking. As one paramedic pulls out his stethoscope to listen, my wife steps in, takes the kid, flips her on her belly with her head down and pounds on her back. The bite of sandwich pops out; my wife gives the girl back to her mom, who leaves stunned. Another day at the office. 


How to Do the Heimlich Maneuver

heimlich maneuver
For older kids and adults, it's the Heimlich maneuver. Steve Gorton/Getty Images

Getting a chunk of sirloin out of Grampa's throat might be a little harder than getting it out of a 1 year old, but you gotta try (on the other hand, why is your 1 year old eating sirloin?). When "Grampa down!" is heard at the family reunion, the kids expect Mom and Dad to save the day with the Heimlich.


How to Stop Diarrhea

BRAT diet for diarrhea
The BRAT diet helps stop diarrhea. (c) flickr user Heather

 I don't know if you have brats, but the BRAT diet sure does the trick for diarrhea. Doesn't "BRAT diet" sound like another name for the Hansel and Gretel cookbook?


How to Fix Nausea

girl with bucket
When vomiting is from a virus, there's not much you can do. Image Source/Getty Images

Vomiting triggered by a virus is tough to fix. It will go away when the virus does. Nausea by itself (not accompanied by fevers and coughs) is usually from motion sickness. Best trick to calm an upset stomach: pull over. It's likely Junior's feeling queasy because he's riding in the backseat between his sisters being force fed Hannah Montana and sniffing sparkly nail polish. Of course, it could be the six yards of fruit snacks. 


How to Treat Head Lice

head lice nite
Nit picking is the hardest part. Melanie Martinez

Nasty critters, these head lice. I hate to break it to all you new parents out there, but little Mary's beautiful blonde curls are definitely going to host some of these bugs. The worst part is they love clean hair, which means just keeping clean isn't enough. The best part is, it's not the end of the world. 


How to Remove a Splinter

splinter in a finger
The smaller the kid, the bigger the splinter.

In the parent world, this is trauma surgery. Splinters—especially from playground equipment—are regarded by most in the under 3 demographic as major medical emergencies. Any parent worth his weight in salt must have the chops to slide a huge chunk of redwood (huge by 3-year-old standards) out of a finger. 


How to Treat a Bee Sting

Stinging bee
Bee stinging a person. Dimas Ardian/Getty Images

This is a little like a splinter, only it pumps venom into the skin as long as it stays stuck. The most important take away from this skill is to skip the scraping stuff your mother taught you. Nobody wants to stand there getting pumped full of poison while Dad digs a credit card out of his wallet to scrape off the stinger. Just pull it out for cryin' out loud!

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