What to do when someone is choking
When someone is choking, quick action is crucial. First, ask the person if they are choking. They are choking if they can’t talk, make sounds, or grab their throat.
Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around their waist. Make a fist with one hand and place it above the belly button. Hold your fist with the other hand.
Perform the Heimlich maneuver. Give quick, upward thrusts with your hands. Do this until the object comes out or the person starts to breathe or cough. If the person is too large for you to lift, you can perform the Heimlich while they are sitting.
If the person faints, lower them gently to the ground. Turn them onto their back and check their mouth. If you can see the object, remove it carefully. Then, start CPR if needed.
When the crisis is over, the person should still go to the emergency room. Sometimes, injuries can happen during the Heimlich maneuver.
For babies under one year, the steps are different. Hold the baby face-down on your forearm and give five back blows. Then, turn the baby over and give five chest thrusts. See the video below.
Keep small items away from babies to prevent choking. These include small toys, batteries, and trim foods like grapes or popcorn. Cut food into small, bite-sized pieces. Always supervise mealtime. Keep floors and low tables clear of small objects. Use a baby gate to block access to risky areas.
Knowing what to do in a choking emergency can save a life. Learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR to be prepared.
How to treat a choking adult:
How to treat a choking infant:
Copyright 2023 William E. Franklin, DO, MBA
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