Recognise, act and treat immediately
It is vital to our survival we keep our airways open (nose, mouth, throat, and lungs). The air we breath travels through the airways to our lungs, and transfers into the bloodstream. Blockages to the airway are life threatening and must be dealt with immediately. A blockage can be internal, such as swallowing an object, swelling caused by a burn or allergic reaction, or external as a result of an accident.
Objects can partial or fully obstruct the throat, causing the muscle to spasm, as a result difficulty in breathing is experienced.
Partial blockage - A casualty experiencing a partial blockage may be able to speak, cough and breath. A first aiders responsibility is to encourage the casualty to remain calm and cough to dislodge the obstruction.
Full blockage - A casualty who is unable to speak, cough or breath is experiencing a full blockage, which has to be cleared before the casualty falls unconscious.
1. Encourage the casualty to bend forward from the waist and supporting the upper body with the other hand.
2. Back Blows - With the heel of the other hand give up to 5 sharp back blows between the casualty's shoulder blades.
3. If the obstruction is not cleared, stand behind the casualty, put your arms around them, ask them to lean forward and link your hands between the belly button and the bottom of their chest.
4. Abdominal Thrusts - With one fist placed between the belly button and the bottom of the chest, and the other hand on top of the fist, pull sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat this sharp motion up to 5 times. Medical attention should be advised due to possible internal injuries if abdominal thrusts are administered.
5. Check the casualty's mouth for obstructions and repeat 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts, up to three times. If the obstruction still has not cleared call for an ambulance and continue until help arrives or begin immediate CPR if the casualty becomes unconscious.
Children can easily choke on small objects or food. In these instances you will need to act immediately to prevent the child from panicking or falling unconscious.
Partial blockage - A child experiencing partial blockage is able to speak, cough and breath. A first aider must encourage the child to remain calm and cough, to dislodge the obstruction.
Full blockage - A child experiencing a full blockage will not be able to speak, cough or breath.
1. Encourage the child to bend forward from the waist or bend them over you knee so that their head is lower than their chest.
2. Back Blows - With the other hand give up to 5 back blows between the child's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
3. If the obstructions hasn't cleared, stand or kneel behind the child, place both arms around their waist and encourage them to lean forward.
4. Abdominal Thrusts - With one fist placed between the belly button and the bottom of the breastbone and the other hand on top of the fist, pull sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat this sharp motion up to 5 times. Medical attention should be advised due to possible internal injuries if abdominal thrusts are administered.
5. Check the child's mouth for obstructions and repeat 5 back blows followed by 5 abdominal thrusts for up to three times. If the obstruction hasn't cleared call an ambulance and continue the cycles until help arrives or commence CPR immediately if the child becomes unconscious.
Treating a Choking Baby
1. Lay the baby face down along your forearm so that their head is lower than their chest.
2. Back Blow - With one hand give up to 5 back blows between the baby's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Check the baby's mouth for obstructions between each back blow.
3. Chest Thrusts - Turn the baby onto their back if the obstruction hasn't cleared. Place two fingers on the breastbone and thrust sharply inwards and upwards, towards the infant's head. Medical attention is advised due to possible internal injuries if chest thrusts are administered.
4. Check the baby's mouth for obstructions and repeat 5 back blows followed by 5 chest thrusts for up to three times.
5. Call an ambulance if the obstruction hasn't cleared or commence CPR immediately if the baby becomes unconscious.
First aid advice
Select from a range of topics below
Choking Child & Infant
Inhalation of toxic fumes
Wounds & Bleeds
Bones, muscles & joint injuries
Sprains & strains
Burns & scalds
Types & treatment for burns
Types & treatment for poisons
Sickle cell anaemia
Extreme Heat & Cold
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