Do you know how to do the Heimlich manuever on your child?

Last night we had an extremely scary experience at our house. Ruby choked.

We ordered Chinese for dinner last night. Ruby loves veggies, so I threw a few peppers and carrots on her plate as well as some small bites of meat. Ruby is notorious for shoving food in her mouth and not chewing it as well as she should. This is something we’ve been working on for some time with an occupational therapist and have made really good progress with. However, last night I realized that we still have some work to do.

As I poured some hot and sour soup into my bowl, I heard Ruby gasp for air and start choking. I immediately jumped up and started patting her on the back, thinking she’d probably just cough up the bite of food on her own like in the past. But she continued to gasp for air and stopped coughing and I knew we were in trouble. I swept her mouth and felt nothing. PANIC.

I had taken a first aid/CPR course a couple of years ago and learned how to do the Heimlich on children, but it’s not something I have to do every day! First, I bent Ruby over and started doing back blows, but she continued to gasp for air. I was about to start doing the Heimlich when she started to gag and in an act of God, she vomited up a chunk of pepper.

I immediately started to cry and shake, thinking about the awful situation we had just been in.  I couldn’t even close my eyes last night without thinking about Ruby choking.

Last night, as I lay sleeplessly in bed recounting the event over and over, I realized that I need to take another child CPR/first aid course to refresh myself on how to react in an emergency. And I need to make an effort to review the materials on a regular basis and stay current so that I am more prepared when an emergency strikes. This morning I asked Ruby’s PCA to join me and we are attending a course in November.  And Ruby will be eating tiny, tiny bites of food for a while.

Do you know how to do the Heimlich or CPR on a child? If not, I encourage you to sign up for a class in your area at the Red Cross or your community center. At a price range of $25 to $100 (sometimes even free), it’s a small price to pay to for the knowledge that could save your child’s life.

Here’s a quick guide on performing the Heimlich on a child over the age of one.


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