Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lucia Choking to death

There's a very sad story in the news today of a little boy who choked to death on a lolly at his third birthday party, yesterday.

As a parent, choking is one of those horrible things that I've always been terrified of. I wonder if it is possible for a child to choke to death, despite doing all the right things. It's something I try not to think about too much, however.

The little boy's death brings to mind my own child's choking experience. He was 6 months old at the time and eating strawberries. I was talking to a friend of mine as I prepared snacks for my birthday party. My friend suddenly said to my child, oh what a funny expression you have on your face!

I turned around to have a look, and momentary froze (it must have been for a fraction of a second or so) as my mind registered that he was choking. I don't want to describe what choking looks like because I prefer not to think about it in such detail, but suffice to say it is silent and apart from my friend's inability to realise what it was, instantly recognisable.

From that point on, I don't think I have ever moved so fast. Somehow I got him out of his high-chair in record time, without even fumbling on the straps. I balanced him on my right hand and whacked him on the back with my left. Out flew the top of the strawberry that he had sucked into the back of his throat.

Once he was safe, I completely freaked out, for maybe ten seconds or so. After that, I put out of my mind what could have been, because I didn't want to go there.

What I had done wrong is not watch him while he was eating. I had always done so with strawberries prior to that time, but I was distracted. After that incident, I also never gave him strawberries with the green part on - I always chopped it off or bit it off if we were out and about. And I always watched him.

As he grew older, I had rules about sitting down to eat food. My kids are not allowed to run with food in their mouths, any food, even lollypops.
... all parents should have up-to-date first aid training and know how to give back blows for babies under one and the Heimlich Manoeuvre for older children.
I certainly agree with the above. I know both how to do a back-blow (it was entirely instinctual at the time) and the Heimlich Manoeuvre, in principle. The idea being that if you apply hard, fast pressure to the diaphragm (the space below the ribcage), it pushes the lungs, expels any air in the lungs upwards towards the throat, so that hopefully anything stuck is expelled.

I just pray I never have to test the Heimlich Manoeuvre out.

Related Link: Boy who choked to death named

1 comment(s):

Greg Bourke said...

What I find a little heartless is that the media and others deal with this by taking the opportunity to educate us about various matters such as choking hazards, first aid courses etc.
Even though it is an utterly rogue event, media can't resist trying to explain it away and give 'meaning' to tragedy by casting it as a learning experience taken onboard going forward yadda yadda.

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