CPR: The lifesaving basics you need to know
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.
PREVENTION IS BETTER MAKE YOUR HOME SAFER
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.
COMPLETE A FIRST-AID COURSE
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).
HAVE A STOCKED FIRST-AID KIT
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