by Doris Donnerman
(last updated September 5, 2008)
Quick! Your child is choking, and you are the only one around that can help. What do you do? How do you help your panicking child? There are some simple steps that anyone can follow that can help in any situation. Here is how you can recognize and handle this terrifying situation.
Of course, the most basic way of treating a choking child is to prevent the situation from ever arising. Prevent a child from suffocating by keeping out of its reach all small objects, ribbons, string and cord, and don't feed children small pieces of food, especially nuts. Do not give them toys with small parts that come loose. In the unfortunate event that a child does get hold of something and you think they are choking follow these simple steps to solve the problem.
First, before doing anything else either call emergency services yourself or have someone do it on your behalf. This ensures that trained paramedics are on the way to help you out. It is a vast relief to know that help is on the way and can reduce the panic in any given situation.
Second, a violent coughing fit and congested face and neck while scary is not often a signal that a child is choking on something. A basic rule to remember is that if you can hear them, they are not choking, just coughing. If the child is coughing, do nothing other than keep an eye on them to make sure that they do not start choking. Do not attempt to remove the object, if there is one, as this may lodge the obstruction more firmly in the child's throat and actually cause real choking. If the child's face starts to turn blue and they are not making any noise at all, then that is when you know that they have started to choke.
Now that you have determined that the child is choking, you want to lay the child over your knees with the head down lower than the rest of the body. Use one hand to support the child's body at the chest, while with the other you will slap firmly between the shoulder blades four or five times with the heel of your hand. Be sure that you are using firm (but still gentle) pressure when you slap the child's back. This should remove the blockage in the throat. In the event that it does not, look into the mouth to see if you can locate the obstruction. If you can, then simply remove it with your fingers. In the event that you cannot locate or remove the obstruction and the child is still choking then repeat the above steps up to four more times to try to dislodge the obstruction.
If the child is found unconscious, lay him on his back with head tilted back to give the child a clear airway. Using your index and middle fingers of one hand, press upwards on the child's stomach, just above the navel. These should be quick movements, repeated up to four times.
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