Due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, hospital visits have been reduced to accommodate only emergencies. And when you’ve got kids at home, you can’t help but worry about any pediatric emergencies popping up. Because let’s face it, accidents do happen. 


Dr. Titilayo Adesanmi, pediatric consultant and medical director of Lifeforte Children’s Medical Centre advises parents on how they can keep their children safe and prevent pediatric emergencies from occurring. In addition to what to do if an emergency arises.

How to prevent pediatric emergencies from happening at home during the Covid-19 Pandemic

  1. Practice social distancing:
  • Do not take your child to crowded places (where there are more than ten people).
  • Don’t take your child to your neighbour׳s house.
  • Do not allow anyone who visits your house to carry your child or have close contact with him/her.
  • Don’t let your child accompany you to the hospital.
  1. Keep away all harmful objects from children. Harmful objects include:
  • Sharp objects like razor blades, knives, scissors, safety pins, office pins.
  • Small objects that your child can easily put into his mouth, nose or ears such as toys with small parts, beads and tiny pieces of jewellery
  • Poisonous objects: This includes all drugs, soaps, disinfectants, liquid soaps, solvents like kerosene and everything that is NOT FOOD or DRINK.
  • Unsafe objects: These are objects that directly cause physical injury to the child׳s body. Examples are broken pieces of furniture; slippery floors, electrical cables hanging within easy reach of the child, tool-box (contains things like a hammer, chisel, nails, spanner).
  • Unsafe places: These are places where activities or objects in those spaces can put the child at increased risk of a home accident.
  • For example, the kitchen, the generator-area, the washing machine area, the ironing table whilst someone is ironing clothes.
  1. Ensure constant adult supervision of your child. They are faster than you think!
  • Do not put objects of interest to them at a height they can’t reach whilst they are watching you so that you do not tempt them to climb other objects to get that thing. They may fall whilst climbing. Rather take the “unwanted object״ to another room or hide it when they are not looking.
  • Pay close attention to how your child is playing. Any play that appears dangerous e. g. somersaulting, jumping from one chair to another, throwing objects with pointed tips e.g. pencils at each other must be promptly discouraged.
  1. Increase hygiene practices for the environment, food, hands and the body.

As more people are in the house now for longer hours than usual, the house is going to be dirtier than usual and therefore requires more effort to keep it clean. You can׳t stop children from touching the various objects around them, the floor and clothing of attending adults inclusive.


The children put those same hands into their mouth with all the germs picked up from those objects. This increases the risk of infection in such children. That is why it is necessary to ensure that strict hygiene practices are employed.

With regards to personal hygiene:

  • This refers to frequent diaper change for babies.
  • Proper cleaning up after passing urine or stool (especially for the girls).
  • Taking regular baths (at least once daily, and supervised for the younger children).
  • Keeping your child׳s mouth clean.
  1. Ensure that your child eats a balanced diet and gets adequate sleep. 

Pediatric emergencies: how to recognize them and what you can do


Here are some signs that show that a child needs immediate medical attention:

  • Fever: Take off the child׳s clothes, tepid sponge the child, give that child paracetamol (follow the instruction on the drug packet for correct dosing). Then take your child to his/her doctor for review as soon as possible.
  • Convulsions (Seizures)/Abnormal excessive cry/Altered level of consciousness: Do not place any objects in the child׳s mouth/nose/ears, remove all harmful objects around the child, remove the child׳s clothes, lay the child on his/her side, and proceed to the nearest hospital to you for immediate further care.
  • Difficulty in breathing: Remove all clothing so that there׳s no mechanical obstruction to breathing. Keep the child propped up, avoid all oral feeds till your child׳s doctor reviews him/her. Get an urgent review by your child׳s doctor or a nearby doctor if your child׳s doctor is not accessible.
  • Fast breathing 
  • Noisy breathing
  • Repeated Vomiting: Stop all oral feeds or drinks and proceed to the nearest hospital.
  • Passage of frequent watery stool (stooling three or more times per day): Give Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) as much as your child tolerates, in small frequent sips; give oral zinc tablets (follow the instruction on the drug packet for correct dosing), get your child reviewed by his/her doctor or any doctor near you.
  • Progressive general weakness: Proceed to the nearest hospital to you immediately.
  • Bleeding from any part of the body: Apply pressure on that part with a clean handkerchief (preferably a white handkerchief) and proceed to the nearest hospital to you immediately. 8. Alert other adults around that you think that your child needs immediate medical attention. Tell them how they can help you.

Precautions to take when going to the hospital during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Pediatric emergencies are bound to happen in some homes. So take note of the following precautions as you take the child to the hospital.

  • Do not take other children in the house who are not ill, along with you to the hospital.
  • Only one or two adults should accompany the ill child into the hospital.
  • Practice social distancing as much as possible when you arrive at the hospital.
  • Avoid touching things that you do not need to touch.
  • Wash your hands frequently whilst at the hospital.
  • Wash your hands just as you about to leave the hospital.
  • On arrival back home, remove all clothes (applicable to everyone who went to the hospital) and put them in a separate wash bag (they should be washed separately from your regular laundry).

With all the aforementioned it is obvious that certain items MUST be kept in your home first aid box.  These items are:

  • Paracetamol syrup and tablet (for older children0
  • Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS)
  • Zinc tablets
  • A packet of white handkerchiefs
  • Plaster
  • Antiseptic solution (for example Savlon) or Methylated spirit
  • Cotton wool

This article was first published on AfricaParent.com

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