Preventing accidents and some hints on first aid



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Content: Accidents and accident prevention are discussed and hints are given on first aid so that, if an accident occurs, people will know what to do.

Is there anything worse than having one of your children or someone else in your family suffer, or perhaps die from an accident that didn’t need to happen? Most accidents happen because people don’t take the trouble to prevent them.

Children and accidents in the home

Most accidents happen in the home, usually to young children who haven’t yet learned how to be careful. To prevent your children from being hurt, here are some useful rules to follow.

Put all knives and other sharp objects where young children can’t reach them. Be especially careful with small objects because sometimes children swallow them or push them into their noses, ears, or even their eyes. Children are often cut by broken glass, nails, and wood splinters, so be sure to keep the floor clear of broken glass and other sharp, dangerous objects.

Other sources of danger for children are the cooking fire, or cooking stove, and hot water or food. Watch babies and young children very carefully and don’t let them go near the stove or fire. For safer open cooking fires or stoves, many people have them on a raised mound of clay instead of directly on the ground. Whatever you do, be sure the stove can’t be knocked over and that it’s away from anything that could catch on fire. Be careful that the handles of cooking pots are out of reach of small children and turned so the pots are not easily grabbed or knocked over. And one more thing: put matches, petrol, and petrol lamps where small children can’t get them. Many home fires are started by children playing with matches.

Poisoning accidents

Unfortunately, many children and adults die from poisoning. One of the reasons is that some people put dangerous chemicals like bleach, paraffin, or petrol in empty beer or soft drink bottles. This is a bad thing to do because children or adults might drink these poisonous chemicals by mistake. Stop this from happening. Put dangerous products in containers that have never been used for food or drink. Be sure that young children understand the dangers of drinking out of strange bottles, or of eating fruits and plants that they don’t know are safe.

Label all poisons and medicines carefully. Pills or tablets are particularly dangerous because little children often eat them thinking they are sweets. It’s important to keep all medicines and poisons in a place where children can’t reach them.

Accidents involving natural hazards

Some wild plants and fruits are poisonous, so everyone should teach their children about them. They should also be taught to be careful about bathing in contaminated water that contains human or animal waste or where there are snails and parasites that make many people sick. Other water hazards include fast-flowing streams and rivers. Anyone can quickly be drowned in water like that.

It may be that there are poisonous snakes in your area. It’s important for everyone to know which snakes are the bad ones. So if you don’t know, find out from somebody who does, and teach your children to stay away from places where these snakes are likely to live. If you see a poisonous snake, keep very still and wait for it to go away. Finally, if snakes are a big problem, it’s a good idea to clear away grass and weeds from the paths most commonly used; then the snakes won’t have a place to hide.

If someone does get a poisonous snake bite, don’t move the limb or bend the person’s body. That will only spread the poison to other parts of the body. GET HELP QUICKLY. Don’t try to treat the bite yourself. It must be done by the health worker.

People can also be hurt by other wild animals and also by farm animals and dogs. Remember that animals can become angry when people go near their young ones.

Accidents with machines and motor vehicles

A great many people are hurt by machines, mainly by cars and trucks. Nearly always, however, the accident is caused either by the person who is operating the machine or vehicle or by the person who is injured. If you are walking on a road where there are many cars and trucks, walk on the side of the road, and choose the side on which the vehicles are coming toward you.

This way, you’ll see them coming and will be able to keep out of their way when they get near you. You should teach children to do the same. It’s the safest way to walk on a road.


Another way that people are hurt is by falling, out of a tree perhaps because a dead branch breaks, or by falling off of the roof of a building. In any case, if someone has a bad fall and breaks an arm or leg, or gets badly hurt in a car accident, don’t move the person. Get a blanket to keep the person warm and GET HELP QUICKLY.

People are also hurt by falling into deep holes or open wells. No hole or well should ever be left so someone could fall in. Be sure that it’s properly covered or that there’s a good fence around it that children can’t get through.

Cuts and other wounds

In any accident, the injured person may be badly cut. If he or she is bleeding badly, try to stop the blood flowing by pressing firmly but gently on the cut with a clean cloth or bandage. Get the help of a person who knows how to deal with the case as quickly as possible.

For less serious cuts and wounds, wash your hands and then wash the wound with soap and boiled water, or warm salt water. You can make it by mixing a teaspoon of salt in one cup of water. Clean out all the dirt because wounds that are left dirty can become infected very quickly, perhaps causing blood poisoning.

Most small wounds don’t need bandages. Just wash them well and leave them to dry. This way, they’ll heal more quickly. If you do use a bandage, make sure it’s clean. Keeping the wound clean is better than using things like mud or iodine. If the wound is really deep, take the person to the health clinic right away.


Finally, let’s think about accidents connected with fire or other hot things that can cause painful burns. When children are very young, you should teach them the dangers of fire and other things that could burn them.

It is terrifying indeed for anyone if their clothes catch on fire. If this happens, the best thing to do is smother the flames. The person should immediately “drop and roll.” Drop to the ground and roll over and over to smother the flames. If there’s a mat or blanket handy, rolling or wrapping it tightly around the person will stop air from getting to the flames so the flames are quickly smothered. The worst thing a person can do whose clothes are on fire is to run. Running will fan the flames and make them worse. Trying to beat the flames out has the same effect. So remember, the simplest, quickest, and most effective thing to do is “drop and roll.”

If someone suffers a burn, here are some treatments. Water is the first thing to use. The person’s hand, arm, leg, or other part of the body that has the burn should be soaked right away in clean water for at least ten minutes. If the burn is small, probably no other treatment will be needed. If, however, the burn is very deep or covers a large part of the body, loosely cover it using a clean cloth with a little petroleum jelly (if available) on it, and get medical help right away.

As you know, a blister appears over the area where the skin has been burned. This forms a natural protection for the burn. So be careful not to break the blister and the burn will heal without putting anything like grease, oil, herbs, or feces on it. If the blister is broken by accident, leave any bandage or clothing sticking to the burned area and let a health worker see it.


Over the past few minutes, we’ve talked about a lot of different kinds of accidents that can happen to you and your children and how they can be prevented and treated. There’s no doubt that the main reason that accidents happen is that so many people are careless. They just don’t think about doing things in a way that will prevent an accident. With this in mind, my advice to you today is this:

Make your home safe for little children, and as they grow up, teach them to always be careful. And you be careful, yourself, and do what you can to prevent accidents, and to encourage others to do the same. Your community will be a happier place if you and others will do everything possible to prevent accidents.


For maximum benefit to your audience, you might wish to use this item with information from:

Many accidents that farmers have could be prevented – Package 5, Item 9A

Preparing a home first aid kit – Package 16, Item 13

Information sources

1. Where There is no Doctor, (403 pages), by David Werner. Available from The Hesperian Foundation, Palo Alto, California, USA.