What to Do if Someone’s Choking
Though choking incidents drop significantly in the adult age category, anyone can still choke. If the person you’re caring for starts to choke, do you know what to do?
In this video, we’ll give you some tips on how to prevent them from choking and review what to do if they do begin to choke. This video is meant to be a reminder of the skills you need to follow in case of an emergency, but not a replacement for an accredited First Aid and CPR course.
If the person you’re caring for starts to choke, do you know what to do?
In this video, we’ll give you some tips on how to prevent them from choking and review what to do if they do begin to choke.
This video is meant to be a reminder of the skills you need to follow in case of an emergency, but not a replacement for an accredited First Aid and CPR course. There’s information on how to sign up for one of these courses in our care guide.
Let’s get started
If someone is choking, it means there is a piece of food or other object stuck in their throat that is stopping them from breathing.
They might be holding both of their hands to their throat, waving their arms or pointing to their throat.
Sometimes when people are choking, they start to panic while they struggle to breathe, try to reassure them so they are able to stop panicking.
If they are able to cough or speak, encourage them to cough to try and get the object out. Do not pat their back, it can make the object move lower if they’re able to cough.
If they are unable to speak or cough, or their lips and face start turning blue, this is now a medical emergency where you will need to help.
Call 911 immediately. If someone is with you, have them go call 911 and come back to let you know that 911 has been contacted.
The 911 operator will keep you on the phone and guide you until help arrives.
Start by leaning the choking person forward and giving five back blows. You do this by using the heel of your hand to hit their back between their shoulder blades.
Check between each blow to see if the object has come up.
If the object is still there after five back blows, try 5 J-thrusts, also known as the Heimlich Maneuver.
You can do this by standing behind the person you’re caring for and wrapping your arms around their waist.
Make a fist with one hand and wrap your other hand around your fist like this.
Place your hands just above their belly button, press your fist with force into their belly and then upwards in the shape of a J.
Continue to switch between 5 back blow and 5 J-thrusts until the object is out or help arrives as long as the person you’re caring for is still conscious.
If they become unconscious, guide them to the floor laying flat and start providing CPR compressions until help arrives.
Now that you know what to do if someone is choking, let’s review how to prevent choking from happening.
If the person you’re caring for has issues with chewing or swallowing, make sure to follow the recommendations from their medical team on how to prepare their food.
It will also be helpful to encourage them to stay away from foods that can increase their risk for choking like grapes, nuts, tough meats or raw carrots.
Have them sit up straight during meal times and encourage them not to talk while they’re eating.
Having to help someone through a choking episode is really scary, but it’s important to know what to do in an emergency to help.
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