Choking – What to do & Why it’s a Common Christmas Hazard

A choking emergency may occur anytime, but the Christmas season has distinct dangers and hazards that families should be aware of, particularly those with young children. Children under 5 are far more prone than adults to choking. As the Christmas season approaches, these are some of the dangers that parents and caregivers should be aware of.


Festive Christmas trees

Whether your family has a real or artificial Christmas tree, this tradition has certain concerns for young children who will put everything in their mouths. Pine needles and twigs, tiny ornaments, ornament hooks, and tinsel may draw children’s hands; thus, periodic inspections and cleaning around the tree are essential.


Christmas Decorations

Little pieces of sparkling ribbons and paper may appear appealing to children. Advent calendars are one of the most treasured Christmas traditions, but they are often loaded with goodies and trinkets that are small enough for children to choke on.



Certain foods provide an even greater choking hazard than tiny items, and nuts are at the top of that list. Seasonal candies such as peppermints, caramels, and toffee may have a stiff, sticky consistency that makes them difficult for children to swallow.

But what if someone gets to those tiny trinkets or chokes on a turkey piece? Do you know what to do to help?

What do to if someone is choking

When someone chokes, their airway becomes partially or fully obstructed, making it difficult for them to breathe correctly. They may be able to remove it by coughing, but if not, you must assist them immediately.

When the airway is just partially closed, the individual may generally talk, weep, cough, or breathe. They will typically be able to eliminate the obstruction on their own. To assist with minor choking in an adult, urge them to cough to attempt to remove the blockage, ask them to spit out the item if it’s in their mouth, and don’t put your fingers in their mouth to help them as they may bite you accidentally or you may end up pushing the object back even further. Start back blows if coughing doesn’t work.

Leave a person alone if they are still coughing, and you can hear them gasping. If you smack them on the back, they may gasp and inhale whatever impedes their airway further down.

Wait until they cannot gasp or cough before beginning back blows or Heimlich manoeuvres since this is when they cannot get air in and are choking. When people can’t breathe, they usually place their hands on their necks as an indication that they need assistance.


If the victim is conscious, provide first aid for choking.

To begin, reassure the individual. Encourage them to cough and breathe. If coughing does not clear the obstruction, bend the individual forward and deliver five back strikes with the heel of your palm between their shoulder blades, inspecting after each hit to see whether the obstruction has been dislodged.

If it doesn’t work, try five chest thrusts with one hand in the centre of the back for support and the heel of the other hand on the lower half of the breastbone, checking after each thrust to see if the obstruction has been eliminated.

Before giving any first aid, ask, “Are you choking?” Allow the adult to cough so the choking danger can be dislodged.

Request that someone dial 999 immediately, or after two minutes of therapy, contact 999 if you are alone with them. Begin with back strikes. Bend over at the waist, crossing your less dominant arm over their chest. Deliver five hard back strikes between their shoulder blades with your dominant arm.

Start with the Heimlich technique or abdominal thrusts. Stand up and put your leg between their legs in case they faint or pass out. Wrap your arms around their upper abdomen. Next, place your hand over their belly button and make a fist. With your second hand on top, grasp your fist and swiftly draw it inside and upward. Repeat five times more. Wrap your arms over their chest instead of their upper belly if they are pregnant or obese, and place your hands in the centre of their chest.

Repeat 5 and 5: 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts. After each cycle, check their throat for the choking item. Begin compressions on the chest. Place your hands in the centre of their chest, one on top of the other. Use your entire weight to execute two-inch-deep chest compressions at a pace of 100 compressions per minute. Give two rescue breaths. Tilt their head to open the airway, block their nose, and seal your mouth over their mouth. Take two deep breaths, ensuring that their chest lifts.

Repeat the cycle. Continue chest compressions and rescue breathing until they stop choking or medical help arrives.


If the victim is unconscious, provide first aid for choking.

• Call the medical team immediately
• Clear the mouth of any obvious obstructions
• Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Place the individual on their back on a hard surface, such as the floor, and do CPR (place a baby on a table). Tilt the person’s head back gently, clamp their nostrils tight, cover their lips with yours to form a seal, and blow strongly. (Never tilt a baby’s head back.) Instead, use your lips to cover their nose and mouth and make bursts of air.

Place one hand’s heel on the bottom part of the person’s breastbone. Interlock your fingers and place the second hand on top of the first. Keep your fingers up so that just your heel touches the person’s chest. For youngsters aged one to eight, use just one hand. For infants, use two fingers.

Thirty times, push down firmly and smoothly (to one-third of your chest depth). Then take two deep breaths. Repeat at a rate of five cycles every two minutes. Continue CPR until the ambulance officers arrive or the subject recovers.

Avoid: Slapping a choking person on the back while they are standing may allow the item to slide deeper down the throat due to gravity (windpipe).

Medical professionals advise consulting a doctor following a choking episode at any age to ensure that no harm was done to the airway or body during the Heimlich and CPR procedures. Choking is scary, but arming yourself with age-specific choking response rules might save your loved ones’ lives.



Ensure that the holidays are safe and enjoyable for everyone by minimising holiday dangers. Then you can concentrate on spending time with your loved ones during this particular time of year.

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