The dangers of boiled sweets, toffee apples and other haunting “treats” that give parents a fright over the Halloween and bonfire night period.


One accident that many parents dread especially in young children is choking. With an increase in sweets over this period, (whether it is supervised by the parents or not) there is a higher risk of choking hazards with young children. Throughout my time conducting First Aid courses, I’ve had many people come forward to say they had no idea how to deal with the choking before they attended our first aid courses in London. Or worse, they THOUGHT they knew what do to, but their plans would have been more dangerous. (For example, turning the child upside down and/or shaking them!)

What most people don’t realise is that you could use the same choking procedures to help the child as the adult, that is a child who is over one year old. The baby choking procedure is very different for the safety of the baby. Knowing how to help a choking child is a vital skill.

When your friend starts coughing and sputtering at the dinner table; your initial instinct to hit them on the back. This is a good thing to do and is a part of the official First Aid choking procedure.

If their coughing isn’t relieving the problem or they can’t cough or speak at all then they need your help!!
We can still do this for the babies, children, adults, elderly people, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. If anything, this is the most important part of the procedure because it carries the least amount of risk, but can still be a very effective First Aid technique. If they can’t cough at all, get to it, don’t be shy! We highly recommend that you ask the casualty to try and cough up the item whether it be food, drink or a toy. Then use the heel of your hand to hit the casualty five times in the centre of their back, right in between their shoulder blades. Each time you try the back blows you must check to see if the item has been dislodged if it has not then you need to hit them again and slightly harder, check after each back blow.

If the item comes out you can always put ice in a tea towel to help soothe the bruise on their back for sets of 5 minutes.

For small babies, you need to be aware that back blows may not hit them where you need to. It may be more effective to turn your hand sideways, so your fingers don’t smack them on the back of the head.

Don’t forget to support the baby’s head at all times and hold them facing the ground so the item can fall out of their mouth.

NEVER put your fingers in and try and grab the object, you are likely to push it in further due to the chaos and panic. Even if you are successful with one back blow, the baby should go to a medical professional within their clinical setting for a check-up. Try calling 111 to avoid long queues at A&E even in the evenings and weekends. Don’t rely on your neighbour who is a nurse, you uncle who went on a First Aid course, the baby may need a scan ASAP.

If 5 back blows don’t work use your phone on speaker and quickly dial 999. Ask for an ambulance, give your address and tell them you have already hit their back 5 times. Then LISTEN to their instructions.

For babies you must never do the “Heimlich” manoeuvre, it can be fatal to press their stomach.


For children and any adults, you can do this but make sure that you are not catching the end of their breastbone – you must make a scooping motion on their abdomen. This manoeuvre is now called the abdominal trusts and it’s well worth attending one of our First Aid courses so that you can practice on dummies. Even if one abdominal trust is successful, your casualty MUST still go to A&E for a check-up. Only if they start to look or feel unwell then call 999 for transportation in an ambulance.

For a more practical explanation of how to do this – please visit us on one of our Paediatric First Aid courses in London.


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