Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Child safety ... sometimes it is a matter of life or death

Child abuse cases often make the headlines or evening news. Especially when they're extreme. But kids can get hurt and be in life-threatening circumstances while doing the simplest of things ... like eating. And there's no abuse involved. But if a parent or caretaker doesn't know what to do, the results can be just as devastating.

So I thought I'd go over some basics with you. These are things every parent and grandparent should know.

Heimlich Maneuver

Kids choke sometimes. That's just the way it is. Whether they're eating things that are high on the choking hazard list (like hot dogs, grapes, goldfish-shaped crackers, peanuts, hard candy, etc.) or simply popping things into their mouths they shouldn't be (like marbles, coins, beads, etc.), the fact is, they can choke. That's why you need to know what to do. It's also why you shouldn't feed your child in the car or any other place where you cannot watch him the entire time he is eating!

Here are the steps for babies under 1 who are conscious:
  • Immediately place him facedown on your forearm. Support his neck and chin with your fingers and make sure his head is lower than his chest.
  • Lightly, but firmly, give him 5 quick blows to his back between his shoulder blades using the heel of your hand.
  • If nothing comes out of the baby's mouth, turn him over and lay him faceup on a hard surface (table or floor).
  • Using 2 fingers, give him 5 quick thrusts in the middle of his breastbone, just below nipple level.
  • Repeat both processes until the object comes out, or breathing resumes.
If the baby loses consciousness, begin CPR immediately. Here is a link to an online video demonstration on how to perform CPR on infants.

For children over 1, the Heimlich is a bit different. After all, it would be tough to lay your 6-year-old along your forearm, wouldn't it?
  • Depending on your child's height, stand or kneel behing her and wrap your arms around her.
  • Place your fist right above her belly button.
  • With your free hand, grab your fist give quick upward thrusts.
  • Continue thrusting until the object is dislodged.
Again, if your child is not conscious, start CPR right away, looking for the object lodged in her mouth between rescue breaths. As CPR is somewhat different for children over 1, here is a link to a video for CPR for children.

According to Nicholas Tsarouhas, M.D., associate medical director of the emergency department at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, "Always have your child evaluated after any near-choking incident."

On Thursday, I'll post some of the other potential hazards you need to be on top of, from poisoning to burns.

Caring for your children ... and  you,



  1. What a wonderful post. We underestimate the importance of knowing properly what do in an emergency. Thanks for reminding us. It's always a good idea to stay certified, parent or not.

  2. Thanks, Amanda. There will be more safety tips on Thursday.

  3. I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for this article. We took a cpr/choking class 3 years ago before my first daughter was born. I'd never had to use any of it with her, thankfully. Then about 9 days ago, while babysitting a friend's children, her 1-year-old started choking on Cheerios and without even thinking first, I gave her the Heimlich and it came right out. Whew. Days later I saw this post and almost skipped it, but decided to read it and refresh my memory on kids UNDER 1, since my 2nd daughter is not quite 8 mos. Guess what happened today? That's right, Cheerios again - and again, a child who stuffed too many at once in their mouth. Because of this article, I remembered right away about the blows to the back of the shoulder blades. It worked immediately. THANK YOU GOD for putting this article out at the exact right time. And may I suggest limiting the number of Cheerios in easy reach? ;)

  4. I am humbled by this. Thanking God along with you, Kristy.


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