How to help a choking child....

How to help a choking child....

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In this blog post, I have outlined the steps of how to help a choking child.

Just a few weeks ago I was in this situation myself, with a 6 month old baby girl who choked on a piece of sausage.

It is not a situation I ever want to find myself in again, but due to my training, I did the necessary steps without even thinking.

Luckily the child did bring up the blockage eventually and recovered well, but she was limp, gray and lifeless for a short period of time.

My poor 5 year old son witnessed the whole thing, so I had to debrief him after too, all the while I was shaking like a leaf and sitting on my hands so as to not worry him.

You could say the adrenaline well and truly kicked in after the event…..

Be “IN THE KNOW”, you don’t need this stuff until you really need it!

If a child is choking and still breathing:

In many cases, coughing will help dislodge the object.

Encourage the child to cough. Infants and young children may cough instinctively.

Stay calm and reassure the child.

Continue to monitor for breathing until they recover. How to help a choking child...

If a child is choking and NOT breathing

If coughing doesn’t help dislodge the object, or the child stops breathing at any time, call an ambulance. Follow the first aid steps outlined below.

Infants (less than one year old) should be placed face down, across your knees and held with their head lower than their chest.

Older children can sit and lean forwards if they are able; otherwise lie them on the floor on their side (recovery position)

Once the child is positioned appropriately:

1. Give five sharp back blows with the heel of your hand between the shoulder blades. In between each back blow, check to see if the object has been dislodged and if the child is breathing.

2. If the back blows are unsuccessful, turn the infant onto their back. If an older child is lying down, also turn them onto their back.

3. Give five chest thrusts using two fingers (infant) or the heel of your hand (child), keeping your hand in contact with the chest at all times. For a chest thrust, position your hand or fingers over the same area you would use for CPR compressions (the lower half of the sternum or 'breast bone')

4. After each chest thrust, check to see if the object has been dislodged.

5. If the blockage has not cleared, continue to alternate between five back blows and five chest thrusts (steps 1 to 4 above) until the ambulance arrives.

If at any time the child becomes unconscious, call an ambulance and start CPR. Do not use the Heimlich manoeuvre (forceful squeezing of the abdomen) at any time, as this can cause serious damage to internal organs.

Key points to remember

  • Don't give young children whole nuts or grapes, or hard fruit and vegetables, and supervise your child while they are eating.

  • Choose well-made toys with no small parts, and keep small objects like coins and marbles out of reach.

  • If your child is choking or having trouble breathing, call an ambulance immediately.

  • Plastics, curtain cords, pillows and mattresses, clothing and prams all pose strangulation or suffocation risks.

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