By Raising Children Network
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RICER first aid: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral

Sprains, strains and fractures can happen easily; try to reduce swelling; use Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral (RICER) to speed up recovery.
  • Injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures can happen easily after accidents or falls, or during sport or other physical activities.
  • When an injury happens, there can be some internal bleeding and swelling in the injured area. Too much swelling can cause more damage.
  • Use RICER first aid in the first 48 hours after a sprain, strain or fracture. It can limit swelling and help speed up recovery.

Rest, Ice, Compression

Rest the injury; use an ice pack; apply a compression bandage, starting below the injury and finishing a hand's width above the site.
  • R – Rest
    After injury, stop your child playing or moving. Movement can increase bleeding and swelling and slow healing. Call 000 if you think it’s a fracture.
  • I – Ice
    Use an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling around the injury. Apply ice for 15-20 minutes every 2 hours for up to 72 hours after injury.
  • C – Compression
    Bandage the area firmly (but not too tightly) around, above and below the wound. Overlap each layer by half. Immobilise limb if you think it’s a fracture.

Elevation, Referral

Keep the injury elevated and have it checked by a doctor; avoid heat or hot rubs, activity and massage.
  • E – Elevation
    Keep the injured area elevated. Keep legs above hips by putting the leg on a chair, pillow or stool. Use a sling for arm injuries.
  • R – Referral
    Have the injury checked by a doctor. The doctor might ask for X-rays, ultrasounds or CT scans to diagnose the injury and plan treatment.
  • In the first 48-72 hours after an injury, don’t use treatments such as heat or hot rubs. Also avoid moderate or intense activity and massage.
  • Last updated or reviewed 25-02-2015