What to do if someone is Choking?

If you suddenly realized your child or a companion was choking, would you know how to respond? Knowing what to do in such an emergency truly can be a matter of life and death. Choking happens when the flow of air is blocked by a foreign object lodged in the throat or windpipe. While young children often swallow small objects, food is usually the culprit in adults. Choking is extremely serious because it cuts off the flow of oxygen to the brain. Therefore, once you realize someone is choking, it is imperative to act quickly to save them.

When responding to a choking emergency you should use abdominal thrusts (also known as “the Heimlich maneuver”) for any victim over the age of one year. If the choking victim is an infant under one year, you should perform 5 back slaps between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand followed by 5 chest thrusts until the object is removed. To perform abdominal thrusts on another person, you need to stand behind them and wrap your arms around their waist and tip them forward slightly. Next, make a fist with one hand and position it right above their navel. Grasping the fist with your other hand, you want to press hard into their abdomen with a quick upward thrust, almost as if you are trying to lift them up. Perform a total of five thrusts at a time if needed. Repeat until the blockage becomes dislodged and the airway is clear.

While hands clutched to the throat is considered the universal sign for choking, a victim may not give that signal. Other signs of choking include an inability to speak or cough forcefully, difficulty breathing, the lips or skin turning blue, and a loss of consciousness. If a choking victim becomes unconscious, you should call 911 and begin CPR immediately.

Unfortunately, choking is a very common occurrence, particularly in children. In fact, choking is one the leading causes of death in children under five years old. In order to be prepared for such an emergency, enroll in a first aid training class from Eclipse CPR Training.