Choking First Aid Instructions
Choking occurs when the airway is
blocked by a foreign object. In adults, this is usually a piece of food, but
for children, it could be a small object or toy. Applying first aid is critical
for choking victims, as loss of oxygen can cause immediate and permanent brain
the universal sign for choking, clutch your hands to your throat. If the person
does not make this single, you can recognize choking if they are unable to
talk, unable to cough forcefully, have difficulty breathing or are breathing
very noisily, or if their skin, lips and nails turn blue or dusky. Choking
victims may also lose consciousness.
What You’ll Need for Choking First Aid:
• CPR Mask
For conscious victims, administer the “five and five” first aid approach. This
consists of delivering five back blows between the person’s shoulder blades
using the heel of your hand. Follow this with five abdominal thrusts (i.e. the
Heimlich maneuver). Repeat this, alternating between back blows and abdominal
thrusts until the blockage is removed, or until the person loses consciousness.
To perform the Heimlich maneuver on another person, stand behind the person and
wrap your arms around his or her waist. Tip the person forward slightly and
make a fist with one hand. Place it just above the person’s navel and grasp
your fist with the other hand. Press into the abdomen with a quick, upward
thrust. Do so as if you were trying to lift the victim up. If the person
is obese or pregnant, position your hand a bit higher, just beneath the breast
If you are alone and begin to choke, you can perform the Heimlich maneuver on
yourself by placing a fist above your navel, grasping it with the other hand
and bending over a hard surface, such as the back of a chair or a counter. Push
your fist inward and upward to dislodge the object in your throat.
If the victim is unconscious, lower them gently to the ground on his or her
back. Open their mouth and see if you can see the blockage in their airway. If
so, reach a finger into the mouth and sweep it out. Make sure you don’t
accidentally push it in further while doing this.
If the person does no resume breathing, administer cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR). Make sure however to always have a first aid kit readily available in case other accidents that require emergency care happen.
For choking infants, sit and hold the infant face down by resting it on your
forearm. Thump the child gently, but firmly, on the middle of the back. Do this
five times before flipping the baby over on its back. Place two fingers in the
center of the infant’s breastbone and give five chest compressions. If the
airway is opened, but breathing does not resume, administer infant CPR.
For children older than age 1, only perform abdominal thrusts.
Remember: if you are in the room with an unconscious or choking victim, begin
administering first aid before calling 911. If you are with others, look
someone in the eye and tell them specifically to call 911.