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First Aid: Choking


First Aid

Choking can be a life-threatening emergency. Your child might be choking if he or she suddenly:

What to Do

If your child is choking, call 911 right away or have someone else call. If you are trained to do abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver), do so immediately. If not done correctly, however, this maneuver could hurt your child.

Do not reach into the mouth to grab the object or pat your child on the back. Either could push the object farther down the airway and make the situation worse.

Keep the following in mind:

Think Prevention!

Here are four ways to prevent choking:

  1. Children younger than 4 years old should avoid eating foods that are easy to choke on, including nuts, raw carrots, popcorn, and hard or gooey candy. Cut food like hot dogs and grapes into small pieces.
  2. Make sure kids sit down, take small bites, and don't talk or laugh with mouths full when eating.
  3. Pick up anything off the floor that might be dangerous to swallow, like deflated balloons, pen caps, coins, beads, and batteries. Keep toys or gadgets with small parts out of reach.
  4. Learn how to do abdominal thrusts and CPR, which usually are taught as part of any basic first-aid course.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: January 2018


Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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