The Christmas season is a time of joy and family gatherings, with children excitedly unwrapping and enjoying their new toys. But this festive period also brings an increased risk of choking hazards for young children.
First Aid at Work Course, a leading website in first aid training, urges parents and guardians to be vigilant and knowledgeable in preventing and managing choking incidents, particularly on Christmas Day.
Safety measures to protect children from choking
- Mindful toy selection. When buying toys, check the labels for age recommendations. Avoid toys with small, detachable parts for children under 3 years or those who tend to put objects in their mouth.
- Vigilant supervision. Actively supervise playtime, especially with new toys. Small objects like button batteries, beads from decorations, or even parts of broken toys can pose a choking risk.
- Safe play environment. Keep your home environment safe by regularly checking the floor and reachable areas for potential choking hazards.
- Educational approach. Teach older children about the dangers of small toys and the importance of keeping them away from younger siblings.
Effective first aid response to choking
- Immediate recognition. Be aware of the signs of choking, such as clutching the throat, inability to talk, or making choking sounds.
- Responsive actions. For a conscious child, lean them forward and give up to five firm back blows between the shoulder blades. If unsuccessful, perform up to five abdominal thrusts. Alternate between back blows and thrusts until help arrives or the object is dislodged.
- Emergency protocol. If the child becomes unresponsive, commence CPR immediately and call emergency services. Do not attempt to remove the object with your fingers unless it is clearly visible and easily reachable.
First-aid expert Mark McShane from the First Aid at Work Course said: “This Christmas, while we immerse ourselves in the joy of the season, let us not forget the safety of our most vulnerable family members – our children. A small oversight can lead to a significant tragedy. By choosing suitable toys, creating a safe play environment, and being prepared to act in a choking emergency, we can ensure a safe and merry Christmas for everyone.”