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How to Help a Child Who is Choking

Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death, with children under five being at the greatest risk (Source). The good news is that injuries and death from choking can be prevented with swift and proper action.

If a child is choking, there are two key steps to take before administering the Heimlich maneuver. According to Stanford Children’s Health:

  1. Ensure that the child is truly choking by looking and listening for other physical signs such as gagging or a high-pitched noise. You do not want to begin the Heimlich maneuver on a child who is simply coughing.
  2. If you are still sure the child is choking, ask them to confirm. A child will still be able to nod their head yes while choking.

Once you’ve confirmed the child is choking, you can begin the Heimlich maneuver. Remember to stay calm. You’ll want to help the child remain calm to reduce the risk of further complications. Finally, as you begin assisting the child, have someone else call 911 just in case you are unsuccessful.

As a reminder, the Heimlich maneuver uses the following steps:

  1. Stand behind the child and wrap your arms around his/her waist.
  2. Make a fist with one hand and place it just below the chest and slightly above the navel.
  3. Grab your fist with the other hand.
  4. Press into the abdomen with a quick upward push.
  5. Repeat the thrusts until the object comes out.

For detailed Heimlich maneuver instructions and instructions for assisting a choking infant, click here.

Click here to shop MacGill’s selection of anti-choking trainers and posters.

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