Ian Groves, regional communications manager for St John Ambulance, offers timely advice to make this Easter a safer time for you and your family

As we start the Easter holidays, the shops are filled with lots of sweet treats. 

These are incredibly enticing however could potentially put children at risk of choking.

Mini eggs and any small treats could possibly become stuck in your child’s throat. 

Eastern Daily Press: Over 700 easter eggs were donated from businesses to Little Lives UK.

How do I know if my child is choking?

  • be unable to breathe, cry, or cough 
  • show signs of distress

What to do: 

  • Cough it out:
    • Encourage them to cough and remove any obvious obstruction from their mouth.
    • If coughing fails to work, you need to give five sharp back blows.
    • Help them to lean forwards, supporting their upper body with one hand. With the heel of your other hand give them five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades.
    • After each back blow, check their mouth and pick out any obvious obstruction.
    • Do not sweep the mouth as this could push the object further down the throat.


  • Squeeze it out: 
    • If back blows fail to clear the obstruction, give five abdominal thrusts.
    • To do this, stand behind them and put your arms around the child's waist.
    • Place one hand in a clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest.
    • With your other hand, grasp your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times.
    • Check the mouth, after every thrust.
    • If it hasn’t cleared, called 999 for emergency help.
    • Repeat five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives, rechecking their mouth between every blow or thrust.
    • If the child becomes unresponsive at any point, prepare to start CPR. 
    • All children who have received abdominal thrusts should be seen in hospital, even if the obstruction has cleared.

If your child has stopped breathing?  

If you find that your child is unresponsive and not breathing, shout for help or get a second person to call 999 immediately, while you start CPR. Put your phone on speaker:

  • Breathe  
    • Place them on a firm surface and open their airway. Place one hand on their forehead to tilt their head back and use two fingers from the other hand to gently lift the chin.
    • If you are trained to do so and feel comfortable, give five initial rescue breaths.
    • With the head is still tilted, take a breath and put your mouth around the child’s to make a seal. 
  • Pump 
    • You will then need to give 30 chest compressions.
    • Kneel by the child and put one hand in the centre of the child’s chest.
    • Push down a third of the depth of the chest.
    • Release the pressure allowing the chest to come back up fully.
    • Repeat this 30 times at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute (think ‘Staying Alive’). 
  • Repeat 
    • Give two rescue breaths followed by 30 chest compressions.  
  • Continue CPR until help arrives.   

It’s worth brushing up on your first aid knowledge so you’re prepared in case something goes wrong or you’re faced with an emergency. 

  • Simple first aid techniques like recognising a cardiac arrest, starting chest compressions, relieving choking and how to stop a bleed, are always important skills to learn and can make all the difference in an emergency.   
  • You should always call 999 in a serious medical emergency.  

St John Ambulance runs Paediatric First Aid courses, where anyone can join through our website (sja.org.uk). The charity also has loads of free resources online, including its YouTube channel, where anyone can learn how to save a life.