What to do if your child is choking

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Few sounds are scarier than a child who is choking. It can be life threatening, so it’s important to know what to do if you are caring for a child who chokes on something.

Dr. Ryan Redman with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says children under the age of 4 are at most risk for a choking emergency because toddlers and babies put everything in their mouths and their windpipes are much smaller than an adult’s. However, choking can happen at any age.

Food is the main thing children choke on – things like hot dogs, poorly chewed pieces of meat, hard candies, grapes and raw carrots. Coins, balloons, small toys and holiday decorations also pose a choking risk.

If your child is choking, call 911 immediately if the child can’t breathe.

Perform the Heimlich maneuver. Position yourself behind the child and wrap your arms around his waist. Place the thumb side of your fist on the middle of the abdomen and press inward and up to dislodge the item.

If the child is unconscious, lower the child to the floor on his or her back and try using the tongue-jaw lift. Place your thumb over the tongue and wrap your fingers around the lower jaw, drawing the tongue away from the back of the throat. Try to clear the airway.

If a youngster has no pulse, indicating his or her heart has stopped beating, perform CPR.

Prevention is key. Make sure certain foods and small items are kept away from young children. Have children sit down to eat and chew food properly. Never allow children to run or play with anything in their mouths.

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