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  • Hazel Hawkes

A Child Is Choking. What Do You Do?

Small children, especially those aged 1 to 5, have an unfortunate habit of putting everything in their mouth which can, and will, include small objects that could be accidentally swallowed. This is a normal part of how they explore the world and learn, but some of the objects are just the right size to get stuck in a child's airway and cause them to choke so here's what to do if a child is choking:

If you can see the object they are choking on remove it. If not, Do Not poke blindly as this could cause it to lodge further down their throat.

  • If they are coughing loudly, encourage them to continue doing so to try and dislodge the item and do not leave them.

  • If their coughing is ineffective - silent or they cannot breathe - shout for help immediately

If the child is still conscious but they are not coughing or their coughing is ineffective, use back blows.

Back blows for an infant under 1 year old:

  • Sit down and lay the baby face down along your thighs, supporting their head with your hand.

  • Give up to 5 sharp back blows with the heel of 1 hand in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.

Back blows for a child over 1 year:

  • Lay a small child face down on your lap as you would a baby.

  • If this isn't possible, support the child in a forward-leaning position and give 5 back blows from behind.

If back blows don't relieve the choking and the baby or child is still conscious, give chest thrusts to infants under 1 year old or abdominal thrusts to children over 1 year old.

Chest thrusts:

  • Lay the baby face up along the length of your thighs.

  • Find the breastbone and place 2 fingers in the middle.

  • Give 5 sharp chest thrusts (pushes), compressing the chest by about a third.

Abdominal thrusts for a child:

  • Stand or kneel behind the child. Place your arms under the child's arms and around their upper abdomen.

  • Clench your fist and place it between the navel and ribs.

  • Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.

  • Repeat up to 5 times.

  • Make sure you don't apply pressure to the lower rib-cage, as this may cause damage.

If the child is still choking after chest or abdominal thrusts, call 999 and keep trying back blows and thrusts until help arrives. If they become unconscious or are found unconscious put them on a flat surface and call for help, call 999 and put them on speaker so your hands are free to help the child. Open the child's mouth and if you can see the object, gently remove it.

Do Not leave the child at any point

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