For a parent or anyone nearby, a child choking can be one of the most terrifying experiences they will ever be involved in. When a child is choking there is a limited amount of time to intervene before they will be deprived of oxygen for too long. Therefore, it is vital that parents and caregivers of small children know exactly what to do when a child is choking and how to do it. First response medical training is recommended, but if you cannot attend a training session nearby, you will want to read over this guide, so you are always prepared.

Call An Ambulance

The first thing you should do is call for emergency assistance, because regardless of the situation, you’ll want help on the way as soon as possible. If you are unable to remove the obstruction it may just save the child’s life to have them there a few seconds earlier. In the best case scenario ask someone nearby to call, so you can focus on the child.

Now you need to ascertain if the child has a fully or partially blocked airway. If the child is old enough to talk ask them if they are choking or not. If they are able to respond at all, this means that they likely have a partially blocked airway. If you determine that the airway is partially blocked, stay with the child and keep telling him or her to cough with the aim of dislodging the object. Make sure you stay with them.

The Abdominal thrusts Manoeuvre

Someone that is fully obstructed will not be able to make any sound at all. For a child that is not yet speaking the absence of any sound or crying is an indication that they are choking. If you determine that they are choking you need to call an ambulance unless you have already done this. Do not try to drive them on your own; instead you need to start the Abdominal thrusts Manoeuvre.

If the child is older than one year of age you can use the Abdominal thrusts Manoeuvre to clear the airway.

To do this, lean the person forward in front of you. Place your arms around the child and then make a fist. Grab your fist with the other hand and position the ball of fist right under the ribs. Then pull upwards abruptly. Continue to repeat the process until the airway is clear, or emergency help arrives.

If the child is less than one year of age they are not a suitable candidate for abdominal thrusts. Instead, the infant should be placed over the knee; five back blows should be given, and then five chest thrusts. While doing this keep the infant’s head angled downwards, so that gravity will help dislodge the object. Also make sure the infant’s head is supported at all times. If the infant turns blue or loses consciousness, then CPR should be started until help arrives.