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Tuesday, September 22, 1998 Published at 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK


Saving baby's life

Is baby breathing?

Watch Val Sumner demonstrate some of the resuscitation techniques
What would you do if a baby was lying lifeless in front of you? As many as 500 children a year die after accidents in the UK. Many of those lives could be saved if people took the right steps in those crucial first few minutes.

This weekend, the BBC Baby Lifesaver Roadshows will be held at ten shopping centres across the UK.

Aided by the Royal Life Saving Society, the Red Cross and St John Ambulance, people can try out resuscitation techniques on dummies and sign up for a recognised course.

Assess the situation

Val Sumner from the Royal Life Saving Society warns that doing the wrong thing can be worse than doing nothing at all.

[ image: Check for obstructions]
Check for obstructions
"The first thing is that you've got to identify that you've got a problem to start with," she says.

"If the baby looks lifeless, has lost its colour, there's something about the baby that looks abnormal to you, check it. Maybe scratch its feet. Try to wake it up. This is one time when you want that baby to cry."

If the baby does not cry after being scratched or pinched, Val says you may well have a problem. She recommends you first get help, if only to have someone else ring the emergency services while you work on the child.

Objects in the mouth

Try to find out as much as you can about the baby's condition. Look in the mouth to see if there is an obstruction. "Babies are renowned for putting things in their mouths," says Val.

"Just tilt the head back gently and then look, listen and feel to see if you can see any signs of breathing. You are looking along the baby's chest to see if it can rise and fall, and you are listening and feeling to see if you can feel the passage of air.

"You do that for about ten seconds."

If there is no air going into the baby, Val says you may have to do it for the child.

A choking baby

If the baby is choking on an object and it is loose in the mouth, it is simple enough to turn the child to one side and sweep it out.

But if it is stuck in the back of the throat, Val recommends you turn the baby over, with the head slightly lower than the body, and give a sharp thump on the back with the flat of the hand.

[ image: Be firm, but not rough]
Be firm, but not rough
"You are aiming to strike between the shoulders on the hard part of the baby's back.

"Babies are not quite as fragile as people make out. They do stand a fair bit of firm handling. The point is to be firm and not rough."

The Royal Life Saving Society, the Red Cross and St John Ambulance all run courses to teach people the correct way to give resuscitation.

The venues for the roadshows on 26 and 27 September are:

  • Gateshead - Metro Centre
  • Hull - Princes Quay Shopping Centre
  • Norwich - Castle Mall Shopping Centre
  • Southampton - Marland Shopping Centre
  • Milton Keynes - The Shopping Centre
  • Aberdeen - Bon-Accord Centre
  • Belfast - Ards Shopping Centre
  • Cardiff - Capitol Shopping Centre
  • Manchester - Arndale Centre
  • Thurrock - Lakeside Shopping Centre

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