You are here

Safety Alert!

Choking

Children 3 years old and under are at the greatest risk of choking, since they have smaller airways, use their mouths to explore the world, and are still learning how to chew foods thoroughly. Common choking hazards include balloons, hot dogs, raw carrots, popcorn, and nuts.

If an object or piece of food becomes lodged in your child's trachea (windpipe), she'll probably cough, wheeze, gag, or drool. If the obstruction is completely blocking her airway and she can't breathe, she won't be able to talk (or, if she's a baby, make normal sounds or cry) and her face will likely turn blue.

"Only if you can see the object or food in the mouth should you try to pull it out," advises Rebecca Smith-Coggins, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine/surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, in California. "Making a blind sweep with your fingers in an infant's or child's mouth might only push something farther down the airway."

If you suspect your child is choking, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately and begin first aid only if the child cannot breathe, cough, or cry. To try to remove the object, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following, broken down by age.

1 Year and Under

 

 

  • Hold the baby's face and head down over your arm, with his head lower than his body. Then, with the heel of your hand, strike him firmly between the shoulder blades up to five times. If the infant doesn't respond by coughing vigorously or crying, carefully support his head and neck and turn him over.

     

  • Supporting him on your lap or forearm, with the head lower than his trunk, use your middle and ring fingers to give five quick downward thrusts just below the middle of the breastbone. Repeat each of these steps, alternating back blows and chest thrusts, until the object becomes dislodged.

     

  • If the infant loses consciousness, isn't breathing, or if you can't feel a pulse, begin CPR until help arrives.

     

1 to 3

 

 

  • Place the child on her back, straddle her thighs, and put the heels of your hands (one on top of the other) against her abdomen below the rib cage.

     

  • Firmly thrust upward, up to five times (gently in a small child). Check the mouth and remove any object you can see. If necessary, repeat chest thrusts and check again for any objects.

     

  • If the child loses consciousness, isn't breathing, or if you can't feel a pulse, begin CPR until help arrives.

     

3 and Up

 

 

  • Use the Heimlich maneuver. Stand or kneel behind your child with your arms around his middle.

     

  • Make a fist and press it thumb-side against the child's abdomen. Grasp your fist with your free hand and firmly thrust upward and inward, up to five times. Repeat if necessary.

     

  • If the child loses consciousness, isn't breathing, or if you can't feel a pulse, begin CPR until help arrives.

     

comments