updated 23 Nov 2010, 14:25
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Fri, Nov 19, 2010
SPH, Special Projects Unit
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Doing it right
by Alex Lim

Acute asthma attack

Follow the Written Asthma Action Plan given by your child's doctor.

When a child with asthma has wheezing or difficulty breathing, the prescribed number of puffs of inhaled reliever medication (usually salbutamol) should be given four-hourly.

If your child is breathless despite this, or needs four-hourly reliever medication for more than two days, see your doctor for a review.

If the asthma attack is getting worse fast, the medication is not helping, or if your child is breathing hard and fast, seek medical attention immediately.

On the way, the prescribed number of puffs of inhaled reliever can be given at 10-minute intervals until you reach the nearest clinic or hospital.


If your child is breathing and coughing, encourage him to cough the inhaled object up by himself. Do not give him anything to eat or drink until the obstruction has been cleared.

If you can see something blocking the throat, sweep your finger through your child's mouth to remove the obstruction.

If nothing is visible, do NOT blindly stick your fingers in his throat. This will only serve to push the object deeper.

If your child is unable to breathe, cough or make any sound, perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre (in an older child) or back blows and chest thrusts (in an infant).

If you are not familiar with these emergency first aid procedures or if they fail to clear the obstruction, call for emergency help immediately.

If your child is unresponsive, looks pale or blue, he may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Burns/Scalds (from hot iron or hot water)

Calm and reassure the child. Immediately cool the burnt area under running water from a tap or shower for at least 10 minutes.

Cut away any clothing that has been burnt or soaked by boiling water. Remove shoes and jewellery in case the area starts to swell.

DO NOT: prick any blister, apply ice, or apply any ointment, butter, ash or toothpaste.

Cover the burn with a clean, nonfluffy cloth or gauze dressing. But don't apply any tight dressings. Take the child to the Emergency Department for further treatment.

Call 995 for an ambulance if the burns cover a large area or if the child is drowsy, unconscious or has breathing difficulties.

Courses on child first aid, CPR and choking

KK Women's and Children's Hospital: ClassesAndForums

Red Cross:

St John Ambulance: Singapore First Aid Training Centre:


This article was first published in The Straits Times.

For more The Straits Times stories, click here.

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