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Swiss Air-Rescue Rega, to home page

Emergencies involving young children

A fall from the nappy-changing table, a hand on a hot stove or difficulty in breathing: how should you react in an emergency involving a young child? We have compiled the most important information for you.

They are adventurous and love to explore the world around them. On doing so, children sometimes overestimate their abilities and at the same time underestimate potential hazards. Minor accidents are part of everyday life and also play an important role in developing an intuitive sense of risk. Fortunately, the pain is usually quickly forgotten.

Many children’s accidents can be avoided by making sure that your home and garden is safe. The information brochures published by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (bfu) provide useful tips on how to achieve this. But despite all precautions, sometimes something more serious happens. Then you should act prudently and quickly – the first few minutes after an incident are often crucial. Even if you are very worried about your child, try to stay calm – in line with the slogan, “look, think, act”.

In the event of difficulty in breathing, hypothermia or heatstroke, young patients have little reserve capacity before a life-threatening condition develops. Regardless of which emergency number you call, the various rescue services are very closely networked – professional help is available no matter where you are and if necessary you will be put through to the correct service within seconds.

Rega is there for you

Always call out Rega direct via the emergency number 1414 or the Rega app if you requireimmediate assistance by rescue helicopter. This is particularly the case with seriously injured or ill children or in remote locations. Speed is one of the main advantages offered by a Rega helicopter, which makes it the best choice when swift and gentle transport to a central hospital is vital – for example, if the emergency involves a child. If in doubt, it is better to raise the alarm once too much than once too little. Rega’s Operations Centre is staffed by competent flight coordinators, who will already be able to help you over the phone.

We have summarised some useful information relating to emergencies with children. However, this is no substitute for a first aid course or comprehensive advice from specialists.



Tripping hazards on the floor, climbing onto objects and running around boisterously can lead to falls – resulting in bruises, sprains or broken bones. If your child has suffered a fall, reassure them and carefully check for visible injuries. A cooling compress, elevation or an adhesive plaster help with sprains or minor injuries. Contaminated wounds should be shown to a doctor. In the case of serious injuries or suspected broken bones, call out the emergency services.


Small toy parts, coins or screws are easily swallowed and can cause choking within seconds. Eating carrots, apples or nuts can also develop into an emergency situation. Do not remove anything that is already in your child’s throat. If the child can still breathe or talk, encourage them to cough to loosen the foreign object or to try to spit it out. If the child cannot dislodge the blockage or their state of consciousness alters, hold them with their head down at an angle and strike them firmly between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. If this is unsuccessful, the Heimlich manoeuvre (with older children) or chest compressions (at any age) may help. If a child stops breathing or is unconscious, call the emergency services immediately.


Scalds and burns

Even hot coffee can severely scald a child’s skin. Open fires or a barbecue grill are also major hazards. In the case of minor wounds, hold the area under cool (not cold) running water for the first 10–15 minutes. Cover the burn with a dry cloth or non-stick gauze dressing and do not apply any creams or ointments. Large burns and scalds should be cooled carefully, as this could induce hypothermia which quickly becomes a problem for young patients. In such a case, call the emergency services immediately. Do not burst blisters or remove clothing stuck to the burn.


Potential hazards such as cleaning agents, medication and plants are lurking everywhere. If a child shows symptoms of poisoning – for example, vomiting, dizziness or drowsiness – or has swallowed something potentially poisonous, call Tox Info Suisse (145). In the event of life-threatening symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness or severe stomach cramps, call an ambulance immediately (144).


Important emergency numbers and apps

144: Ambulance (for all medical emergencies)
145: Tox Info Suisse (in case of suspected poisoning)
1414: Rega
117: Police
118: Fire service
112: European emergency no.

Rega emergency app:
SRC first aid app: available in the app stores

Additional information