AHEAD of Child Safety Week (7- 13 June) the Public Health Agency in association with partners involved in the delivery of the Home Accident Prevention Strategy in Northern Ireland, have developed an animation to warn parents and guardians of potential choking hazards for young children and provide practical advice on what to do if your child chokes.
Each day around 40 under-5s across the UK are rushed to hospital after choking on something, or swallowing something dangerous.
Food is the most likely cause but small objects and toys can also be risky for young children.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “This new animation will help make parents and carers aware of the potential dangers for children, particularly for those under the age of five.
“The animation also gives practical advice on what can be done to reduce the risk of choking.
“I would encourage families to take a few minutes and watch the animation.”
Hilary Johnston, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the PHA, said: “Choking occurs when an object becomes stuck in the throat or the windpipe and blocks air from flowing into the lungs.
“Children, particularly those under 5, often put objects in their mouth.
“This is a normal part of how they explore the world. However, some small objects or food items can be just the right size to get stuck in a child’s airway and cause choking.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council urged the public to access the video which will be shared on Council’s social media pages.
“I would like to welcome this important initiative from the Public Health Agency which contains potentially life saving advice for parents and carers,” he said.
“As a parent of four myself I know how easily a child can put small items in their mouth, particularly when they are under the age of 5.
“I’d like to encourage families to access the video on our Facebook and Twitter accounts and to reduce the risk of this happening in your home and to act quickly and effectively if it does.”
Hilary Johnston added: “No matter how careful you are, your child may choke on something but by following the simple steps in our latest home accident prevention animation you can help reduce the risk.
“Ensure food is cut into small pieces and keep small items out of the reach of children.
“It is also important to know what to do if your child is choking.
“Coughing is a natural response when something obstructs our airway – if your child is coughing after swallowing an item encourage them to carry on coughing to bring up what they’re choking on, but don’t leave them alone.
“If your child’s coughing isn’t effective, they are silent or they can’t breathe in properly or speak, call for help immediately.
“Included in the animation is some first aid advice that can be carried out until help arrives.
“Call 999 if the blockage doesn’t come out after trying back blows and either chest or abdominal thrusts, keep trying this cycle until help arrives.
“Even if the object has come out, get medical help.
“Part of the object might have been left behind, or your child might have been hurt by the procedure.
“Remember the best way to avoid choking is by following our steps on reducing your risk.”
For further advice and to watch the animation see NI Direct www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/chokingTags: