As Teenagers Gain Independence, Teach Them First Aid

With independence comes responsibility. You can’t, and shouldn’t, prevent your teen from experimenting and adventuring whilst young. However, you can provide them with the tools to combat any potential accident they or a friend faces. 

Currently, when faced with these emergency situations, the BHF found that 44% of teens surveyed “panicked “and 46% “simply [didn’t] know what to do”.

Amazingly. a full 97% of young people, believed first aid education would improve their confidence, skills and willingness to act in a crisis. The government agrees, first aid is going to become a mandatory part of the curriculum in 2020.

Here are just a few scenarios in which basic first aid knowledge could be really vital for your teenager. Who wouldn’t want to say they’d been able to save a friend’s life?


Alcohol & drugs

The British Red Cross revealed that over 500, 000 teenagers have become responsible for a drunken friend (being sick, injured, unconscious) in the last year. This can be scary and overwhelming, particularly if both parties have been drinking and are new to alcohol.

Alcohol is particularly problematic because it affects judgement and physical sensations. A drunk teenager, may not feel cold yet if someone is drunk; it can be harder for them to maintain their body temperature and they can quickly succumb to hypothermia. Alcohol increases the chances of a fall resulting in serious abrasions, head injuries (which are not always visible) and more. If looking after someone who has collapsed having drunk too much; it is vitally important to immediately check that they are breathing and then roll them into the recovery position to keep their airway clear.  If they are outside if possible, 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; this is even more important if they have been drinking or have taken any other substances.

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 out of it – check for dilated or constricted pupils, speak to them and listen to what they are saying and how they say 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 overheating and 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. If they stop breathing and you need to do CPR, ensure you protect yourself with a face shield.


Falls from heights or hit by a car

Around 60,000 young people are admitted to hospital each year according to ROSPA. These admissions are most commonly due to falls (which will be due to in part to excessive alcohol consumption and extreme sporting activities).

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 and 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.


For asthma attacks

A quarter of young people reported to have had to deal with an asthma attack.

It is 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 they can provide proof that they have been prescribed the medication, it is possible to buy an emergency inhaler over the counter. If their symptoms get worse, you should seek medical help immediately.


Extra reason to gain first aid skills

First Aid is an essential life skill and helps young people remain safer by appreciating risk and being able to help each other if they are involved in a medical emergency. My own teenagers have both had to use their first aid skills and knowledge on numerous occasions; at parties, on the sports pitch, babysitting and whilst doing their Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions.

A First Aid qualification is invaluable to young people striving to achieve their Duke of Edinburgh and Sports Leadership Awards and is highly sought after by UCAS – particularly if applying for a medically related subject. Parents feel far more confident leaving their little ones with someone equipped with the skills to help if there is an accident and Sports and kids clubs view First Aid skills as a necessity.


Therefore not only are the skills hugely valuable, likely to be used and could save a life; the qualification gained is likely to increase a young person’s chances in this highly competitive world.


Our next First Aid for Teenagers course is during half term on Wednesday 29 May 2019 and will include all the practical skills a teenager needs to know from how to deal with an open wound, to the recovery position, CPR and much more. Head over to our website or give us a ring to book your teen a place on the course.


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 or call 0208 675 4036


In addition has a specific First Aid for Teenagers course which will allow them to access these vital skills on their computers and mobiles.


There are numerous free resources available on our website.


First Aid for Life and provide 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. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.


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