What to do when a child is choking

For many parents or caregivers, it’s important to know first aid, at least basic first aid skills.
Would you know what to do if a child in your presence was choking?

Choking procedures vary depending on the age and condition of the child. If the child is under one year old, here are the essential steps to know. For children over one year old, here are the steps to follow:

If the child is coughing or can speak, encourage them to keep coughing. However, if the child begins to wheeze, or can no longer make a sound, cough or breathe, it is imperative to intervene.

Care for a choking child

1. If the child cannot speak, cough, or breathe or is making high-pitched noises, immediately begin care for complete choking. Shout for help to try to attract the attention of a bystander, but do not delay care by calling 911 or your local emergency number yourself.
If possible, send someone to call 911 or your local emergency number and get an AED while you care for the person.
A woman performing first aid techniques on a choking child2. Alternate between any two of the following methods until the object comes out: back blows, abdominal thrusts, and chest thrusts.

Back blows:
• Place your arm across the child’s chest.
• Bend the child forward and deliver up to 5 firm blows between the shoulder blades.

Abdominal thrusts:
• Place your fist just above the belly button.
• Give up to 5 quick inward and upward thrusts.

Chest thrusts:
• Place your fist in the middle of the child’s chest with your thumb facing inward and place your other hand over your fist.
• Give up to 5 chest thrusts by pulling straight back.
3. Continue providing care until the object comes out or the child begins to breathe or cough, or emergency personnel take over.
Unresponsive child with airway obstruction

If a choking child loses responsiveness begin CPR starting with chest compressions.

If you haven’t already done so, have someone call 911, or the local emergency number, and bring an AED while you tend to the child.

Please note that the information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for first aid training. Find out more at redcross.ca/firstaid and find a first aid course near you.
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