It’s common knowledge that retailers send Christmas cards carolling their way into shops around Halloween, and Halloween costumes creep into stores in the summer…
Easter is no different.
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Every year it feels earlier, doesn’t it? We can’t blame our children’s excitement in buying Easter sweets while accompanying parents on the weekly shop. It used to be just a one-day affair, but this now extends for a good 3 month period (the same for every annual holiday).
Recently, it has come to light that these treats are a very serious choking hazard.
All over social media we hear of one horrified mother’s experience.
Despite her very recent and up to date first aid training, she was unable to save her daughter when choking on one of these sweets. Like with all precautionary measures for parents, this is fast becoming the new ‘grape in halves’ epiphany.
The heartbroken mother urges that ‘If your children enjoy these chocolate treats please watch them extra close and remind them to sit down whilst eating them or avoid them altogether’. She adds that although she will never be able to discontinue this popular treat, that ‘…getting parents to be extra vigilant is the best I can do, please watch your babies’.
One of the most heart-wrenching parts of this story, is that her child Sophie was 5 when she choked on one of these sweets. No longer a baby or experiencing difficulty in eating, her mother didn’t suspect the danger.
How can we be more vigilant with choking?
When a casualty is choking, it is important that the first aider takes quick assertive action to prevent the situation from becoming worse.
People choke more commonly on food, but might also choke on small objects such as pen lids. When a casualty’s airway is completely blocked, it will be distressing. The casualty is likely to panic and may clutch at their neck.
What to do:
Ask the casualty firmly whether they are choking. The casualty that is choking severely will be unable to talk or cough. Assertively encourage the casualty to cough. If this does not clear the obstruction, shout for help while you:
- Give 5 back blows. Stand to the side and slightly behind the casualty. Supporting the chest with one hand, lean the casualty forward. Give up to five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
- If unsuccessful, give up to 5 abdominal thrusts. Standing behind the casualty, put both arms round the upper part of their abdomen. Leaning the casualty forward, clench your fist and place it above the navel. Grasping the hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards, repeating up to five times.
If the obstruction has still not cleared, continue giving alternating back blows and abdominal thrusts.
If the casualty becomes unconscious:
- Support the casualty to the ground while maintaining your own safety
- Dial 999 for an ambulance, if not already done
- Start basic life support, by giving 30 chest compressions, followed by 2 rescue breaths
- Check the mouth before breaths to see if you have cleared the obstruction, but do not sweep the mouth with your finger if you do not see anything
NOTE: Following successful treatment for choking, the casualty may have other complications such as persistent coughing, difficulty swallowing, or a sensation of an object still being stuck in the throat. If this is the case, you should seek medical attention. Furthermore, abdominal thrusts can cause serious internal injuries and all casualties receiving abdominal thrusts should be examined by a doctor.
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Let’s keep Easter sweet this year!