The countdown to the fun of the annual Easter egg hunt has begun and children across the country are getting ready for the excitement of heading off in search of a basket full of chocolatey treats! However, for one mum who has recently spoken out, Easter is a particularly difficult time. The grieving mum took to Mumsadvice.co.uk to tell of how she lost her daughter three Easters ago, when her five-year-old choked on a mini Easter egg, and is now warning other parents to be extra vigilant of possible hazards. If you look closely at the packaging, you will see that manufacturers of these of small eggs do state on the wrapping that they are not suitable for children under the age of 4, but many parents were oblivious to this warning.
Emma Hammett from First Aid for Life decided to launch an awareness campaign about the dangers of children choking on mini Easter eggs on Facebook and the response has been absolutely overwhelming. So far, her post has reached close to 3 million views, with over 32,000 people sharing the message. Many of the messages coming tell very similar stories, detailing how children have choked on small sweets. Luckily, in all the cases Emma has been told of so far, the children were ok after the adult in charge was able to dislodge the sweet, but in at least one case the little girl was unconscious and not breathing, until her sister saved her.
These stories are a stark reminder of just how easily small, round foods can become a choking hazard for young children. For years now, grapes have been identified as being potentially very dangerous for young children. Many schools and nurseries have now banned them from packed lunches – or insist they are cut up. It would now appear that mini Easter eggs have joined that group and parents are now being advised to either buy larger hollow eggs that are less of a choking hazard – or to carefully supervise their children much more closely when they are eating them.
Please don’t panic though. Although choking is very common and extremely frightening, it is still comparatively rare that it proves fatal. Here is a step by step guide demonstrating how you can help, should a child in your care choke.
Choking in children:
Babies and young children can choke on anything small enough to fit through a loo roll.
To prevent choking, keep small objects out of reach, cut up food into very small pieces, deter children from running around whilst eating and always supervise children while they’re eating, especially if they’re under five years old.
Signs of choking: Unable to speak or cry, possibly clutching their throat and struggling to breath.
If a child shows signs of choking, remain calm and encourage them to cough to help remove the object. If this doesn’t work, follow the steps below to clear the obstruction:
Bend the child forward, supporting them on their chest.
With the other hand; using the flat of your hand give a firm back blow between the shoulder blades.
Check to see if the blockage has cleared before giving another blow.
If the back blows haven’t helped; get an ambulance on the way.
If the blockage hasn’t cleared after five blows, the next stage is to try and dislodge it using abdominal thrusts/Heimlich manoeuvre:
For this – stand behind the child and place one hand in a fist under their rib cage. Use the other hand to pull up and under in a J-shaped motion, to dislodge the obstruction. Perform abdominal thrusts up to 5 times, checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared. Anyone who has received abdominal thrusts should be seen by a doctor.
Never perform abdominal thrusts on a baby under 1 year.
If the child is still choking, call 999 (or 112) and alternate five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until emergency help arrives. If at any point the child becomes unconscious, commence CPR.
Knowing these steps should give you the confidence to act if you need to. First aid is about being prepared, not scared. Your positive actions could make all the difference.