ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Blog

November 17, 2020

Keep Your Thanksgiving Safe: Choking Prevention and Response

Thanksgiving may look a little different for your family and friends this year, but safety should remain a priority.

The CDC has released guidelines to help make your Thanksgiving safer. Some families may choose to limit celebrations to their household members only, while others may choose to host a small outdoor gathering.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, we want to minimize safety risks. This includes taking steps to prevent choking incidents and making sure you’re prepared to respond if someone begins choking.

Choking prevention tips

No one expects to experience a choking emergency. But it can happen to anyone, especially young children.

To reduce choking risks:

  • Cut food into small pieces. Round foods (e.g. hot dogs, carrots, grapes, etc.) should be cut in quarters or smaller for young children.

  • Supervise children while they’re eating and keep them at the table. No lying down or running around with food.

  • Eat slowly and chew food completely. Remind children to slow down when eating.

  • Avoid talking and laughing with food in your mouth.

  • Limit your alcohol intake and other distractions during meals.

It’s also important to reduce choking risks around your home.

Protect young children by removing items small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll (e.g. toys with small parts, coins, small batteries, etc.).

How to respond to a choking emergency

A serious airway obstruction is life-threatening. If you recognize the signs of choking (e.g. the person can’t breathe, cough effectively or speak) or if someone is giving the universal sign for choking (one or both hands at the throat), you need to act quickly.

  1. Reach under the person’s arms from behind. Place your fist just above the navel, thumb side in. Grasp your fist with your other hand.

  2. Perform quick, forceful abdominal thrusts in and up.

  3. Continue to give abdominal thrusts until the object comes out or the person becomes unresponsive.

This technique is the same for adults and children age one and older. Keep in mind you may need to kneel down behind the child to give abdominal thrusts, depending on yours and the child’s size.

Call 911 if you’re unable to dislodge the object. If the person becomes unresponsive, carefully lower the person to the ground and begin CPR immediately - with the added step of looking in the mouth after each set of compressions.

To learn more about choking and other emergencies, reach out to your local Training Center.




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