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Parts one and two of this three-part special feature discussed choking hazards, cautionary tales, the warning signs of choking, and preventative measures. In this third and final section, we take a look at life-saving techniques geared toward choking children and babies. If you are ever in the position to need to save a choking child, then these tips may very well mean the difference between life or death. So, please, read on and familiarize yourself with these steps.
Below the article are a couple of charts (one for children and one for infants) that you can print out in case of emergency. Place copies on your refrigerator, in your wallet or purse, in your child’s backpack or diaper bag, and anywhere else where it might come in handy in the event that these tips are ever needed. After all, even highly trained individuals can become so panicked that they forget some of what they learned and may be unable to help. Having these on hand will help to keep you calm and ensure that you will be able to follow proper techniques to save your child.
Babies Under Twelve Months
If the baby is conscious…
- Rest your arm on your thigh and lay the infant facedown on your forearm. This will help hold him steady.
- Support the baby’s chin firmly with one hand and be sure the head and neck are lower than his torso.
- Using the heel of your free hand, deliver five quick blows right between the shoulder blades.
- If the baby does not cough up the object, turn him onto his back. Rest him on your forearm, using your thigh to support his body and your hand to support his head and neck. Once again, make sure that both the head and neck are lower than his torso.
- Using two fingers, deliver five quick thrusts to the center of his chest, right on the breastbone, about one finger width below the nipples. Stop if he starts to cough so that he can cough up the object.
- If he still cannot breathe, continue to alternate five back blows with five chest thrusts until the airway is unblocked.
- If this does not work or he loses consciousness, continue with the next section.
If the baby is unconscious…
- Lay the baby on his back. To open his airway, tilt his head back and lift his chin. If you can see the object, remove it.
- Seal your mouth over his nose and mouth, give two slow breaths, and feel to see if his chest rises and falls.
- Put an ear to his mouth to listen for breathing and feel for chest movement. If there is no rising or falling, repeat the first two steps. If he breathes with your help, give one breath every three seconds, counting as follows: one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, and so forth… until he breathes on his own or help comes.
- If there are still no signs of normal breathing and help has not yet arrived, begin chest compressions. Place two fingers in the center of his chest, over the breastbone. Deliver five compressions one-half to one inch deep. Follow with one breath.
- Continue cycles of five compressions and one breath for one minutes. Then call 911 if no one else has.
- If the baby does not regain consciousness, continue with rescue breathing and chest compressions until help arrives. Every minute, check for signs of normal breathing, coughing, and movement.
Baby First Aid: How to Save a Choking Baby; Credit: British Red Cross
Toddlers, Children, and Teenagers
If the child is conscious…
- Stand or kneel behind the child and wrap your arms around his waist.
- Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side on the child’s abdomen. Your fist should be positioned just above the navel and well below the child’s breastbone.
- Grasp your fist with your other hand and give five quick, inward and upward thrusts. Each thrust should be a separate, distinct movement.
- Continue with a series of five thrusts until the object is dislodged. If this does not work or the child loses consciousness, continue with the next section.
If the child is unconscious…
- Lay him on his back. Open his airway by tilting his head back and lifting his chin. If you can see the object and are able to remove it, do so. If cannot see it, however, do not try to get it. This will only make it worse.
- With his head still tilted back, seal your mouth over the child’s mouth and pinch his nose. Give two slow breaths.
- Put your ear to his mouth and listen for breathing, then feel for chest movement. If he is still not breathing, repeat the first two steps. If he begins to breathe with your help, give one breath every three seconds, counting as before: one one-thousand, two one-thousand, and so forth… until he begins breathing on his own or help arrives.
- If there are still no signs of normal breathing and help has not yet arrived, begin chest compressions. Place the heel of one hand in the centre of his chest over the lower half of the breastbone. Deliver five compressions one-half to one inch deep. Follow up with a single breath.
- Continue cycles of five compressions and one breath for approximately one minute. Then call 911 if no one else has done so.
- If the child does not regain consciousness, continue with rescue breathing and chest compressions until help arrives. Every minute, check for signs of normal breathing, coughing, and movement.
Child First Aid: How to Save a Choking Child; Credit: British Red Cross
Choking First Aid for Babies; Credit: Mum Central
Choking First Aid for Children; Credit: Mum Central