What To Do When Someone’s Choking

By on 9-30-2015 in Choking

Choking is the blockage of the airway caused by the lodging of a foreign object in the windpipe. Because choking prevents air from entering the lungs, it may cut off your body’s supply of oxygen and may then result in potentially fatal adverse effects.

A person is said to be choking if he clutches his throat with one or both of his hands. But apart from this signal, there are many other signs of choking, including inability to speak and cough, discolored fingernails and lips, and loss of consciousness. According to jeffsampsonlaw.com, choking can be a result of almost anything: a lodged piece of food, a small toy component that has been swallowed, or an ingested foreign object from a contaminated food product. Whatever the reason is, choking is considered a medical emergency that needs quick response.

When someone is choking it is important to identify first if the person is an adult, a child, or an infant below one year old. Depending on his/her age, you must do the following:

For adults and children over one year old

  1.  If the choking is mild and the person is able to cough, encourage him to clear the blockage by coughing
  2.  If you can see the blockage, remove it using both your index and middle finger
  3. If the choking becomes serious, call 911 or have someone call 911
  4. Give the person 5 quick blows between his shoulder blades using the heel of your hand (the portion between your wrist and your palm)
  5. If this doesn’t work out, perform Heimlich maneuver:
    •  Stand behind the person and wrap your hands around his waist
    • Make a fist on one hand, and grab the fist with the other
    • Position it into the abdomen just above the navel
    • Press hard against the abdomen up to 5 times
    • Alternate between the back blows and Heimlich maneuver until the blockage comes out or until knowledgeable responders are available

For children less than one year old

  1.  Hold the baby face down on your forearm, make sure his head is lower than his stomach
  2. Using the heel of your hand, give five firm but gentle blows between his shoulder blades
  3.  Check for the blockage. If you can’t see the blockage, do not insert your fingers as it might push the blockage further down
  4. If this doesn’t work, hold the baby face up and let him lie on your forearm
  5. Keep the baby’s head lower than the stomach, his head and neck supported
  6. Place your fingers between the baby’s breastbone and provide five firm blows
  7. Do this alternately until responders are available

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