How to prepare your teenager with first aid advice for their post exam celebrations
It’s that time of year when teenagers across the county are beginning to plan their post-exam celebrations, trip to a festival or possibly their first holiday abroad with friends. They will have worked hard and will be looking forward to letting their hair down on a well-earned rest. Our son is one of those very teenagers and, whist we are very excited for him, we are also fully aware of the risks involved! Read on to learn how to prepare your teenager for their post exam celebrations.
As their brains are still developing (especially the risk evaluating part), teenagers and young people are very likely to push boundaries. They may very well be abroad with friends for the first time and there will be temptations as far as the eye can see. The peer pressure will also be extremely strong, so even if you know your teenager would act one way in a certain situation, they may behave differently when surrounded by a group of friends. So, before they go, it is vital that they understand how to evaluate risk – and just how important that skill can be. Also, if (or more likely, when) things go wrong, it is imperative that they know not only how to look after themselves, but also how to care for those around them.
A survey, commissioned by the British Red Cross revealed some concerning statistics:
• More than 532,000 young teenagers have been left to cope with a drunken friend who was sick, injured or unconscious in the last year.
• 1/4 of young people have had to deal with asthma attacks.
• 1/3 of teenagers have had to cope with someone with a head injury.
• 1/5 teenagers have had to help someone who is choking.
However, the most worrying part of the research was that, when faced with these emergency situations, 44% panicked and 46% simply didn’t know what to do.
In the survey’s most compelling statistic, 97% of young people, believed first aid education would improve their confidence, skills and willingness to act in a crisis.
Here are some of the key aspects of first aid that your teenager may need to think about, before they head off on any adventures:
Alcohol is often at the root of any difficulties teenagers may encounter in such situations. Not only are there the problems associated with drinking too much and what that does to your mind and body. There are also the problems caused by alcohol reducing inhibitions, meaning your child may take risks they wouldn’t otherwise take.
If someone has collapsed having drunk too much; it is vitally important to immediately check that they are breathing and then roll them in to the recovery position, to keep their airway clear. If someone is drunk, it can be harder for them to maintain their body temperature and they can quickly succumb to hypothermia. If they are outside, try to move them inside; or alternatively, if it is unwise to move them, insulate them from the ground and cover them with a coat or blanket. Whoever is with them should keep checking they are breathing and that their airway remains clear, especially if they are vomiting.
Alcohol also makes it harder to assess serious signs and symptoms. If someone has hit their head and they are drunk; they should always be checked out by a medical professional. Anyone who has suffered a head injury should be monitored for the next 48 hours to check for any signs of brain injury.
If someone has taken some sort of high, they are likely to have poor judgement and underestimate risks. They may even seek danger as an additional thrill. It is usually fairly obvious when someone is under the influence of drugs. Check for dilated or constricted pupils, speak to them and listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. They may have taken a cocktail of drugs, or they may not know what they have taken at all. They may have been sold something totally different to what they thought they were buying. It is possible that they might be hallucinating or could be violent; do not put yourself in any danger.
If they do not want your help and you are concerned about them; call an ambulance and the paramedics will take control of the situation. Many drugs lead to an excessive thirst and over-heating, so it is vitally important to remain well hydrated and not to mix drugs and alcohol. If you are caring for someone who is suffering a bad reaction from drugs, get help fast. If they are unconscious and breathing, you should put them into the recovery position and keep checking that they are breathing. Should they stop breathing and you need to do CPR, ensure you protect yourself with a face shield.
If someone is having an asthma attack, it is very important for everyone to remain as calm as possible, as stress and panic will make the situation worse. Encourage them to use their blue reliever inhaler. If they haven’t got access to their inhaler; you should phone an ambulance. If you are near a chemist and it is open; if the person experiencing the asthma attack can provide proof that they have been prescribed the medication, it is possible to buy an emergency inhaler over the counter. Should their symptoms get worse, you should seek medical help immediately.
Falling from a height or being hit by a car:
If you suspect someone may have a spinal injury, it is still absolutely vital to protect their airway and ensure they continue to breathe. However, it is also important to avoid twisting their spine. Maintaining a clear airway is of paramount importance and so you will still need to roll them into the recovery position if they are unconscious and breathing. It is best to log roll them with the help of others. Treat bleeding by applying direct pressure; watch for signs of shock and phone for an ambulance.
So, if at all possible, please sign up your teenager for a first aid training course before they start packing their bag. The best motto for post exam celebrations is ‘be prepared, not scared’!
First Aid for Life runs practical and online courses for young people. We run scheduled and bespoke courses for groups of friends and are happy to tailor them for specific requirements such as post exam trips away, university, Gap years and sports qualifications. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 675 4036
In addition, http://onlinefirstaid.com has a specific First Aid for Teenagers course which will allow them to access these vital skills on their computers and mobiles.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://www.firstaidforlife.org.uk and http://www.onlinefirstaid.com for more information about our practical and online courses and to access free resources.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.