Heimlich and CPR for Kids

Written by: Dale Orlando

It is every parent’s worst nightmare: your child is choking and you don’t know what to do. I have certainly heard of such tragic cases in my work as a personal injury lawyer in Toronto. Knowing how to respond in emergency situations is vital. It is extremely important to be comfortable with life-saving measures such as Heimlich and CPR, so you can administer treatment calmly and effectively.

Heimlich and CPR for children:

Under 12 months

  1. Assess the situation.
    If the child is unable to cough, cry or speak, there is likely a full blockage of the airway. The skin may turn bright red or blue. If the child is coughing or gagging, the airway is only partially blocked. Encourage him to cough and attempt to dislodge the object.
    If you are with someone else, have that person call 911 as you follow the next steps. If you are alone, administer two minutes of care, then call 911.
  2. If the baby is conscious: Back blows and chest thrusts.
    Carefully position the baby face up on your forearm, supporting the back of the head with that hand. Place the other hand on his chest. Use your thumb and fingers to flip the baby over onto his stomach. Position them on your thigh so that the head is lower than the chest.
    Use the heel of your hand to deliver five firm back blows between the baby’s shoulder blades. Continue to support the head. Flip the baby over onto his stomach and begin chest thrusts.
    Place two fingers in the center of the baby’s chest. Push the chest down firmly about 2 inches, and then let it return to its normal position. Complete five chest thrusts. Continue alternating between five chest blows and five chest thrusts until help arrives.
  3. If the baby is unconscious: CPR
    First, tilt the head back slightly to open the airway. If the baby isn’t breathing, give two rescue breaths lasting for one second each. Do not breathe too hard or fast; an infant’s lungs are much smaller than an adult’s, and do not require much air to fill up.
    Next, complete 30 chest compressions by placing three fingers on the breastbone and pushing the chest down approximately 1½ inches. Alternate between two rescue breaths and 30 chest compressions.

12 months and over

  1. Assess the situation
    Determine if the blockage is full (the person cannot breathe or speak) or partial (the person is coughing or gagging).
    If you are with someone else, have that person call 911 as you follow the next steps. If you are alone, administer two minutes of care, then call 911.
  2. If the child is conscious: Back blows and abdominal thrusts Stand or kneel directly behind the child. Place one arm across the chest and lean the child forward. Firmly strike the child between the shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand. Administer five solid back blows.
    Next, wrap both of your arms around the child’s waist. Locate the belly button. Make a fist with your one hand, placing your thumb against the stomach, just above the belly button. Grab your first with your other hand and give five upward thrusts into the abdomen.
    Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the item is dislodged, the child begins to cough, or 911 arrives.
  3. If the child is unconscious: CPR
    Place the child them on his back on a flat surface and kneel beside him. Place the heel of one hand on the breastbone (the center of the chest) and the other hand directly on top. Perform 30 compressions by pushing the child’s sternum down approximately 2 inches. Allow the chest to return to its normal position before starting the next compression.
    Next, open the airway by lifting the chin with two fingers. Tilt the head by pushing down on the forehead with the other hand. If the child is not breathing, cover his mouth tightly with your mouth, pinch the nose close and give two rescue breaths. Continue the 30 compressions followed by two breaths until help arrives.

Dale Orlando


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