Childhood Falls & Injuries: STOP before you Scoop!

Childhood Falls from Playground Equipment.

Step-by-Step First Aid after Childhood Injuries & Accidents

Has your child ever fallen from a height in the playground? Or sustained injuries from falling off the top bunk or out of a tree? Crashed their bike? Or even had a rough tackle at footy?

What was your first reaction?

Because if you’re like most parents with a child who is hurt and crying – you want to scoop them up to comfort them and make sure they’re ok.

But wait! The very first step is to STOP!

Why you need to STOP before you Scoop

Picking up your child could do more damage when they’ve fallen from a height, landed awkwardly or collided with something at speed.

Particularly if they don’t immediately get up.

Looking at falls in particular – they are the most common injury children are treated for in hospital.  They can result in fractures, cuts or head injuries. No surprise really when our kids are all so busy exploring and climbing.

Being such a common occurrence, you want to know how to act so you can safeguard your child against further injuries and complications.

But first, what influences how serious the fall is?

  • The height your child fell from: The lower they fall from, the lower the danger.
  • What your child fell onto: Landing on concrete or a hard surface vs a soft landing can make a major difference.
  • Anything they hit as they fell: Have they landed on a sharp edge, a point or glass?
  • The mechanism of the fall: The angle they landed, what part of their body broke the fall/took the impact.

Playground falls in particular are extremely common. This is a perfect example from a friend of mine. 

She watched a 5 year old child fall off the monkey bars from 1.5 – 2m height, landing straight onto his lower back and hit his head.

He instantly grabbed for his coccyx, shouting out in pain. His mum hadn’t seen the incident because she was tending to his younger brother, so rushed in to scoop him up and attempt to shush his cries and upset away.

My friend was worried the child could have injuries to his lower back or even spine because of the height he fell from, and rightly so.

(And PS, no judgment towards the well-meaning mother. The poor thing was probably shocked by seeing her son crying out in pain, as well as experiencing mum guilt for not being in two places at once!)

Know how to Assess a child’s injury

As with any first aid injury, first run through DRSABCD (click here for more info)

Then, it’s best to use the STOP first aid procedure – a brief assessment that helps you decide if your child can carry on, or if further help is needed.

You’ll find it is just as useful for playground injuries and falls at home, as it is after a bike crash or on sporting fields.

How do you STOP?

STOP stands for:

  • Stop
  • Talk
  • Observe
  • Prevent
Let’s look a little closer at these 4 simple steps:
  1. Stop – Do your best to quell your natural parenting instincts! Before you pick up your child, stop and breathe. Being calm will help your child the most. 
  2. Talk and Observe – It’s time to assess and look for clues. What can you see and hear?
    • Ask how did it happen & how do they feel?
    • Can they hear you & answer your questions?
    • Are they answering appropriately?
    • What do their answers tell you about what happened? Can they recount what happened?
    • What other indications are there about how bad it might be?
    • Can they feel everything?
    • Do they have pain anywhere?
    • Are they lying or holding themselves in an unusual way?
    • Can you see anything that indicates how serious their injuries are?
  1. Prevent – Now you need to assess how serious the injury is. Also, decide what steps can you take to prevent further injury.Is it a simple bruise or bump and they can continue to play? Or is it severe?For example, if you suspect a neck or spinal injury, Prevent is about keeping them still while you ring an Ambulance.


When assessing your child’s injury, go Head to Toe.

Another great way to approach your observation is to literally look at your child from the top of their head to the tips of their toes:

  • Can they open their eyes?
  • Do they know what their name is?
  • Any lumps, bumps, bruises, bleeding?
  • Can you see any discharge from ears/noses?
  • Are they answering questions appropriately and behaving normally?
  • Do they have any pain in their head and neck?
  • What does their breathing look and sound like?
  • What is their colour like?
  • How are they holding themselves? Are they clutching a body part?
  • Do they have any pain in their abdomen?
  • Are their limbs positioned and being used normally?
  • Can they feel their arms and legs normally?
  • Are they able to wiggle their fingers and toes?
And yes, this is exactly why we are called Head2Toe First Aid!

When to seek emergency help

While the majority of childhood falls and accidents only result in a bruises and bumps, there are times it can be more serious.

DO NOT move your child and call 000 for an ambulance if your child:
  • is unconscious
  • has had a head injury, especially if they fell from a height greater than a metre
  • seems unwell and vomits more than once after hitting their head
  • has trouble breathing
  • has a seizure, convulsion or fit
  • might have seriously injured their head, neck, back, hipbones or thighs
  • be drowsy, dazed and not respond to your voice
  • not cry straight after the knock to the head (in younger children this can be a symptom of concussion)
  • be confused, have lost memory or be disorientated about where they are, the time or people around them
  • experience any visual disturbance or have unequally sized pupils
  • have weakness in their arms or legs
  • have something stuck in their head, or a cut causing bleeding that is difficult to stop, or a large bump or bruise on their head
My next community parent first aid courses are on 26 June in Golden Grove and 28 July in Holdfast Bay, click to enrol. 
Or, you can enrol for my next certificated Community CPR and First Aid course on 29 July in Holdfast Bay.
Alternatively, contact me if you would love to learn First Aid with your family and friends or even with your child/ren. I’d love to hear from you. I can come to your house and individualise a course to your family. 
Click on the link below to book now! Or discover more here on my website or over on my Facebook page