Choking is the coughing spasm and sputtering that happen when liquids or solids get into the windpipe. A child's cough reflex will clear the windpipe of liquid within 10 to 30 seconds. Complete blockage occurs when solid food (for example, a piece of hot dog) or a foreign object (such as a small toy) gets stuck. (It can also occur with severe croup.) If this happens a child is unable to breathe, cry, or speak. The child will be in a state of panic and, if the obstruction isn't removed in 1 or 2 minutes, the child will pass out.
As long as your child is breathing and coughing, do nothing except encourage him to cough the material up by himself. The main purpose of your child's cough reflex is to clear the windpipe. Don't give your child anything to drink because fluids may take up space needed for the passage of air.
Give FIRST AID.
IF BREATHING STOPS in a child OVER 1 YEAR OLD, give high abdominal thrusts.
IF BREATHING STOPS in an infant UNDER 1 YEAR OLD, give back blows and chest thrusts.
Reason to avoid abdominal thrusts until 1 year old: risk of liver or spleen laceration.
IF THE CHILD OR INFANT BECOMES UNCONSCIOUS (UNRESPONSIVE), begin chest compressions (hands-only CPR).
Call the rescue squad (911) IMMEDIATELY.
Call the rescue squad (911) immediately in all cases of choking on a solid object.
In general, choking on liquids is temporary and harmless. Call the rescue squad if your child chokes on a liquid and turns blue, becomes limp, or passes out.
Choking can be life-threatening, so try to prevent it from happening by not giving young children foods or small objects that are most likely to cause choking.
Foods that are most likely to cause choking are nuts of any kind, sunflower seeds, orange seeds, cherry pits, watermelon seeds, gum, hard candies, popcorn, raw carrots, raw peas, raw celery, and tough meats. Do not give these hard foods to children who are less than 4 years old. They do not have enough molar teeth to chew them well and they may not understand that some seeds should be spat out rather than swallowed.
The soft foods that most often cause complete blockage and death are hot dogs, sausages, large pieces of any meat, grapes, gummy candy, and caramels. These foods must be avoided or chopped up before serving. Warn babysitters and older siblings not to share these foods.
Choking on a rubber balloon is the leading cause of deaths resulting from choking on objects other than foods. Most incidents occur when children suddenly inhale a deflated balloon they have been chewing. Warn your child never to chew or suck on pieces of rubber balloons. Even teenagers have died from this freak accident. Chewing on an inflated balloon is also dangerous because it could burst. Mylar helium balloons are much safer. Rubber balloons should only be used with strict supervision. Other items that can cause choking in young children include coins, marbles, pen or marker caps, and small button-type batteries.