Choking

An Article by Worsley Training – First Aid Trainers in and around Wiltshire

choking back slaps

Choking is life threatening as it can cause someone to stop breathing, so most importantly here’s what not to do if this ever happens to you. Don’t stick your finger in their mouth to try to get the obstruction out unless you can see it clearly at the front of the mouth. If it is lodged in their airway, then there simply will not be enough space for your finger to get past whatever it is to hook it out, so it will just get pushed further down.

So what should you do? Firstly, try not to panic! Take deep breaths as staying calm is critical in any situation where you need to administer first aid.  Then you need to force air from their lungs up the airway to force the blockage out – just like popping a cork out of an empty plastic bottle by squeezing it hard – by following these basic steps:

  1. Encourage them to cough.
  2. If they can’t, then give up to five firm slaps on their back between their shoulder blades.  Babies and small children should be placed over your lap with their head pointing downwards as gravity will help. Check after each slap to see if the obstruction has cleared before doing another one.
  3. After that give up to five abdominal thrusts by wrapping your arms around them from behind, placing one fist on their tummy just below their rib cage and your other hand on top of it, and then pull in and up sharply. Check between each thrust to see if it has worked. (Give chest thrusts to a baby under one year old)
  4. Ask someone to call 999 and keep repeating the above sequence until it clears.
  5. If they lose consciousness, you will need to start CPR.

With children, remember anything that is the size of their throat needs to be chewed carefully, so keep an eye on them while they are eating and always encourage them to sit down. Also be very wary of feeding them in the car, especially when on a road you can’t easily stop on. If they choked it could be a few minutes before you can pull over, get out, unstrap them from their car seat and start treatment – sadly they could lose consciousness in that time so please think twice.