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Baby and Child First Aid

Questions and answers about first aid for babies and children: Bleeding heavily

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

What do I do if the bleeding soaks through the item I've used?

Answer
Answer

Do not remove it but add more items (like t-shirts and tea towels) and maintain firm pressure. Call 999 as soon as possible, or get someone else to do it.

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Q

Should I wash the wound?

Answer
Answer

Don't wash a wound that is bleeding heavily. You may make it bleed more. You can wash minor cuts and grazes to remove any dirt. You should also wash animal bites with soapy water if they are not bleeding heavily.

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Q

What should I do if there is an embedded object in the wound?

Answer
Answer

Do not remove it – the object is helping to plug the hole and stop the blood flow. Removing it from the wound could make the bleeding much worse. Instead, apply pressure around the object.

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Q

Should I worry about infection or catching something from their blood?

Answer
Answer

No. If you don’t have a cut on yourself, you are very unlikely to get an infection or infect them.  If you are worried about infection and want to use a barrier you can limit your contact with the blood by using a plastic bag or plastic gloves. Alternatively, you could get them to use their own hand to put pressure on the wound.

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Q

What is shock, and what are its signs and symptoms?

Answer
Answer

Shock is caused by a lack of blood flowing through the body, which can be life-threatening. It is different to the emotional response to an incident where you may feel ‘shocked’.

A baby or child with shock will look pale, feel cold to touch, and be sweating. If you think a baby or child is going into shock, continue to apply pressure to the wound to stop the blood coming out. Call 999 if you haven’t already done so. Cradle or lay them with their legs higher than the rest of their body. By having their legs higher than their heart you will increase the flow of blood to the brain and heart. Comfort them and wrap them in a blanket to keep them warm. 

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