Participating in sports is great for keeping kids active and teaching important life lessons. However, every sport comes with some risk for injury. If your child’s coach doesn’t keep a first aid kit nearby, it’s easy to develop your own. Build your first aid kit based on the specific sport. Some items, however, may be common to all sports.
Path to improved health
Some injuries are common in all sports. This includes cuts, bruises, sprains, broken bones, and concussions. Whatever the sport, start with these first aid kit essentials:
- Dressings and bandages (gauze role, sterile gauze pads, eye pad, roll of adhesive tape, elastic bandage for sprains, sterile cotton balls and swabs).
- Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment for cuts.
- Latex gloves.
- Instant cold packs.
- Safety pins to fasten splints and bandages.
- A suction device (or kitchen turkey baster) to flush out deep cuts.
- Aluminum finger splint.
- Scissors for cutting the gauze.
- CPR face shield.
- Hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes.
- First aid manual.
- List of emergency numbers.
- Sterile saline eyewash.
- Pain reliever and fever medicines. Do not use aspirin for children and teenagers younger than 18 years of age.
- Waterproof bag or container to keep bandages from getting wet.
- Sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
- Aloe vera to treat sunburn.
- Water for hydration or to clean debris from a wound.
- Tissues to stop a nose bleed.
Remember to stock plenty of supplies to last several sporting events or practices. Check your sports first aid kit regularly and refill as needed. Also, if your child has prescription medicine (such as an EpiPen for a peanut allergy), make sure there is always one in the kit. This should be refilled immediately after use. Finally, many sports teams travel to nearby locations or farther away. As you travel to watch your child play, be sure to bring the first aid kit along.
Things to consider
Prepare for certain injuries when your child plays sports. Common injuries by sport include:
- Baseball and softball: Soft tissue damage, sprains, broken bones, cuts and bruises (from sliding to bases), sunburn, and dehydration.
- Basketball: Sprains, strains, bruises, broken bones, concussions, scrapes and bruises, dislocations, injuries to teeth, and soft tissue damage.
- Football: Concussions, broken bones, bruises, sprains, strains, pulled muscles, soft tissue damage, internal injures (bruised or damaged organs), back injuries, sunburn, and dehydration.
- Gymnastics: Sprains, pulled muscles, and soft tissue damage.
- Soccer: Bruises, cuts and scrapes, headaches, concussions, sunburn, and dehydration.
- Track and field: Sprains, pulled muscles, scrapes from falls, sunburn, and dehydration.
Treat sports injuries with RICE:
- Rest: Follow your doctor’s orders to stop participating (for however long he or she recommends).
- Ice: Immediately apply ice to an injury 4 to 8 times a day for 20 minutes at a time.
- Compression: Talk to your child’s doctor about using compression materials (wraps, air casts, special boots, or splints) to treat the injury. This also protects it from further injury.
- Elevation: Keep the injured area raised above your heart to reduce swelling.
You can reduce your child’s risk of injury by reminding them to:
- Wear the proper sports gear/equipment.
- Follow the rules of the game.
- Warm up with some exercises before participating.
- Sit out when injured or in pain.
- Tell you or their coach if they are having regular pain in a muscle or joint while training or playing a sport.
- Get an annual physical from his or her doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
- How do I know if my child has a concussion?
- What are the symptoms of an internal injury?
- If I treat swelling or pain at home, how long should I wait before seeing a doctor?
- Can basic physicals detect a heart abnormality?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.