CPR: The life­sav­ing basics you need to know

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

BA­BIES AND IN­FANTS are lit­tle, del­i­cate, un­co­or­di­nated and at risk of all kinds of calami­ties that can hap­pen in an un­guarded instant: fall­ing, burns, ac­ci­den­tal poi­son­ing, allergic re­ac­tions and chok­ing are but a few. But try not to be­come to­tally over­whelmed by fear. Devot­ing your thoughts to ev­ery­thing that can be­fall your baby is a stress­ful and joy­less way to live. Rather, im­ple­ment these sim­ple life­sav­ing strate­gies in your home and try to re­lax the rest of the time.


Take a crit­i­cal look around your home be­fore baby ar­rives; but cru­cially, do it again af­ter each ma­jor mile­stone, mean­ing once your baby can roll over, crawl and walk. At each stage, tar­geted safety pre­cau­tions need to be fol­lowed. Keep your baby’s crib clear of cot bumpers, pil­lows, du­vets and toys as all pose a stran­gu­la­tion and chok­ing haz­ard. Min­imise the risk of cot death by putting your baby on his back to sleep, and not smok­ing nor al­low­ing smok­ing in your home. Co-sleep safely only. Never leave your baby on the chang­ing ta­ble or in the bath unat­tended. As your baby be­comes more mo­bile, safe­guard stairs with baby gates and limit ac­cess to your pool, if you have one, with a net and gate. Move house­hold clean­ers, pol­ishes and in­sect poi­sons from un­der the sink to an un­reach­able cup­board. Move small ob­jects (which ba­bies could mouthe and choke on) out of reach. Ba­bies grow fast – above all, adapt your plan reg­u­larly.


You, your nanny and/or au pair or house­keeper should all com­plete a ba­sic first aid course. There are many cour­ses on of­fer na­tion­wide, so do an in­ter­net search, but re­mem­ber that any first aid course needs to meet the re­quire­ments of the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, the Re­sus­ci­ta­tion Coun­cil of South Africa, or the Emer­gency Medicine So­ci­ety of South Africa. Cour­ses cost in the re­gion of R1 000 and should in­clude about 16 hours of train­ing, although many one-day cour­ses are avail­able. Some cour­ses can be held in your own home with a group of peo­ple you se­lect, which is very con­ve­nient. HAVE AN EMER­GENCY PLAN All mem­bers of the fam­ily and all care­givers should know the emer­gency plan. All care­givers should in­stantly know the num­ber for call­ing police or an am­bu­lance. That num­ber used to be 10111, but re­cent news reports about the

in­ef­fi­ciency of the call cen­tre should have you think twice about us­ing it. How­ever, all three cell­phone providers in South Africa have col­lab­o­rated to use one emer­gency num­ber (112). Dial that num­ber from any cell­phone (the num­ber will work even if it’s locked and even if it’s out of air­time) to get help quickly. Teach older sib­lings that num­ber too. If you only have ac­cess to a land­line, Net­care911 will re­spond to your emer­gency whether you are a mem­ber or not (call 082 911). ER24 is a med­i­cal emer­gency com­pany (084 124). It’s a good idea to check which provider op­er­ates in your area and then re­mem­ber at least that one num­ber. But do com­pile a list of other emer­gency num­bers and stick them on your fridge, such as the num­ber of poi­son con­trol (0861 555 777).


Apart from reg­u­lar items such as in­fant parac­eta­mol, ban­dages and ther­mome­ters, BurnShield springs to mind as an emer­gency med­i­ca­tion that you should be able to lo­cate and use within sec­onds in the case of a se­ri­ous burn. (Oth­er­wise use cold run­ning wa­ter on the burn while help ar­rives.) If your in­fant has a se­vere al­lergy you know about, in­clude an ep­i­neph­rine kit, but only use it if you know how, and if you know your baby’s re­ac­tion is from an al­lergy. Oth­er­wise, sum­mon an am­bu­lance in­stantly and per­form CPR if breath­ing stops.

Be pre­pared in an emer­gency and you could save a life, writes Margot Ber­tels­mann

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