Even small children can learn what to do in an emergency

Joonas Brandt / Finnish Red Cross
Image: Joonas Brandt / Finnish Red Cross

According to the responses given to Taloustutkimus, the parents’ first aid skills are reflected in the children’s preparedness to help. In areas where parents had completed an above average number of first aid courses, the children’s ability to take action when an accident occurs was estimated to be better than elsewhere.

According to a study commissioned by the Red Cross from Taloustutkimus, parents underestimate the ability of their primary school-aged children to act if an accident occurs.

– First aid and safety skills can, however, be taught to children even younger than this, says Kristiina Myllyrinne, the Finnish Red Cross’s first aid specialist.

The Finnish Red Cross investigated the safety at home and first aid skills of Finnish families with children in a survey carried out by Taloustutkimus.

One in three parents of children under school-age interviewed for the study assessed their child as being able to take action if an accident occurred at home. With parents of children in primary school, the same figure was 64 per cent.

– It’s wonderful to see that first aid skills are taught in school. However, children below school age can also learn to help themselves and others,” says Kristiina Myllyrinne, the Finnish Red Cross’s first aid specialist.

Plasters are a good start

According to Myllyrinne, learning about safety skills can start at an early age with simple things such as preventing accidents.

– When the parent is putting dishes in the dishwasher together with the child, they can show the child that knives and forks must be placed with the blade down. In the forest parents can show children what they can and cannot pick up and taste, Myllyrinne says.

A good place to start learning first aid is to practise putting on a plaster or treating a burn. It is also important to learn how to call for help.

– You can practise calling the emergency number even with a small child. First you should learn the emergency number and the address of your home. When the child later has their own mobile phone, you can download the 112 Suomi application onto it. The app helps locate the child, Myllyrinne adds.

Safety issues concern parents of small children

Myllyrinne stresses that helping is best learned together:

– You should consider scenarios from the point of view of solutions with the child, instead of fearing such scenarios. If something happens, the child must be able to trust that they can talk about anything with their parents.

Learning helpful skills as a child is made easier by the fact that, according to the survey conducted by Taloustutkimus, parents of small children think about safety issues a lot in their everyday lives.

Up to 80 per cent of parents of children below school age had thought about safety at home, such as the operation of the smoke alarm or household first aid equipment, during the past year.

A helpful attitude brings families together

– The parents’ first aid skills are not transferred to the children as such, but the attitude of being willing to help is shared within families, Myllyrinne says.

– Parents in northern and eastern Finland had attended the most first aid courses. This may be partly due to the significance of the ability to help being emphasised in sparsely populated areas, Myllyrinne ponders.

The survey was conducted in the form of telephone interviews of 300 parents of underage children throughout Finland in March 2019.

 Red Cross Week is celebrated in Finland from 6 to 12 May. The themes of the week include everyday safety and first aid skills of families with children.