“What are the top 5 Children’s Injuries, and quick treatments for them?” was one of the question posted on our Facebook wall recently. As we ask you what you want to know, it’s good to answer as well, so here are the top 5 children’s injuries, in order:
1. Motor Vehicle Collisions
2. Drowning
3. Suffocation
4. Burns
5. Poisoning
As you can already see, it’s not always about quick treatments, perhaps not treatment of any sort. We need to emphasise prevention as well. It’s part of our first aid courses, and it’s mentioned in all the manuals as well. So let’s cover these five:

Preventing MVCs

Number one on the list of Top 5 Children’s Injuries is motor vehicle collisions. This could be a post all to itself – it could probably be several posts, so let’s keep it short here:
1. Kids go in the back of vehicles. Have appropriate car seats & restraints in your vehicles. Use them properly. See ICBC or the BCAA if you’re in any way unsure. You should have had this checked before you even left the hospital after they were born. If there are problems with your seats, either replace them, or have the local RCMP recommend a group who can help. There are various help groups depending where you live. Remember that kids car seats (especially those for babies) also have an expiry date. If you’re buying second hand, check this!
2. Teach them the rules of the road as they become old enough to be walking and eventually riding. Don’t just teach them, but lead by example as well. Yes it’s a minor inconvenience to wait 30 seconds at a crossing for an empty road, but think about the example you’re setting…. What, exactly, is so very important that getting there 30 seconds earlier is worth risking their lives for? What you do today, they will do in the future. They just might not know everything to check before they walk.
3. Get them appropriate safety equipment for bikes, trikes, scooters, etc. At the very least a helmet and working lights. Reflective clothes would be nice too!
Treatments for motor vehicle collisions involving kids will be as varied as the causes and injuries themselves. Always follow the priorities: Safety First! (Don’t get yourself run over too.) Airway and Breathing come before any worry about spinal injuries. Make sure EMS is called. See the 4 Bs of First Aid for more.

Teach them to Swim

Red Cross Swim Logo

Number two on the list of Top 5 Children’s Injuries is drowning. Again, prevention is more important than treatment. Teach them to swim. Teach them appropriate water safety. Teach them any other appropriate information (Boating? Canoes? Surfing? etc…)
For our youngest, remember they can drown in the bath-tub. Always stay with them and be ready to help.
As they get older, remember the pool rules, and stay within arm’s reach until they are old enough to be independent.
An unconscious person is also at risk in a small amount of water (face down in a puddle is enough to stop them breathing).
Again the same principles of treatment apply: Follow the priorities: Safety First! (Don’t drown yourself.) Airway and Breathing come first. Make sure EMS is called. See the 4 Bs of First Aid for more.


Is next on the list of Top 5 Children’s Injuries. Let’s make sure we know what it is first. The child is no longer breathing (cannot breathe) because something is blocking the nose and mouth.
Again prevention is important. Keep (plastic) bags out of reach of children, be careful of bedding around babies and follow safe sleeping guidelines – no toys in the crib, no loose bedding, etc.
Although not strictly suffocation, also think about prevention of choking: Sit down for snacks, cut food appropriately, feed them age appropriate foods, keep small toys out of reach, etc.
The treatment of suffocation is simple enough – remove the blockage.
For choking, the treatment is age dependant (a course is a good way to get all the details) but may include

  • Back blows
  • Chest Compressions
  • Abdominal Compressions

In all cases be prepared to do CPR if necessary.

Cool it & Cover it

Sparky the fire dog
Number 4 on the list of Top 5 Children’s Injuries is Burns.
Again prevention is important. Teach them to be safe around fires, flames, matches, etc. As appropriate to your setting (Do you have open fires? Stoves? Gas fires? Camp a lot? Use BBQs?) Teach them not to play with fire. Remember the dangers of hot water as well. As they get older, spend time hanging around with Sparky the Fire Dog and download all the fun fire-truck colouring & safety sheets!
Treatment is ‘simple’ – cool it and cover it.
Under running water for at least 10 minutes (20 minutes for chemical burns) – then cover with a sterile dressing.
Not sure if it needs more treatment? Your hands can help you assess!


Last on the list of Top 5 Children’s Injuries is Poisoning

Don't guess, be sure

Have we mentioned prevention yet? I think we may have. Yet every year it seems I still get to hear about someone who poured toxic chemicals into a bottle that used to contain a drink. Why? Don’t do that. In fact this year was even better: I got to hear about someone who did that, forgot about it, and then drank the chemical themselves! Usually it’s someone else drinking the poison in error.
If you think someone has been poisoned, call EMS or call the Poisons Control Centre (604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911 in BC).
If you want more information about poisoning, their website is great! Eventually we’ll be posting about this topic, but even then we probably can’t do better than the poisons Centre site.

Treating the top 5 Children’s Injuries

Relies on prevention as much as first aid. As always, remember to Check, Call, Care:

  • Check the scene for safety
  • Check the person – breathing? Conscious?
  • Call for appropriate help or advice
  • Care for them after the above has been done!

And if you’re still reading, you might be interested in learning about some unexpected causes of childhood injury (and how to deal with them)