How to help a choking victim

You and a friend are eating lunch together. All of sudden you see your friend grab her throat – a panicked look spreads across her face as she starts to turn purple. You quickly realize your friend is choking.

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What is choking?

Choking is caused when food or some other object blocks a person’s airway and prevents them from breathing. Choking can occur very suddenly in patients of any age. If not rapidly treated, choking quickly leads to death.

Signs of choking

  • Universal choking sign (grabbing or pointing at the throat)
  • Inability to speak
  • Inability to cough
  • Face changing color
  • A panicked look

How can I help someone who is Choking?

  • Send someone to call 9-1-1
  • Take steps to get the object out:
  1. Stand behind the person and bend them down at the waist so they are staring at the ground.
  2. Using the heel of your hand, hit them hard on the back between the shoulder blades 5 times.
  3. Then, have them stand straight up and position yourself behind them.1098-2
  4. Wrap your arms around the person’s abdomen. Make a fist with one hand and place it in the center of the abdomen just above the belly button and beneath the breast bone. Grab your fist with your other hand and give forceful inward & upward thrusts into the abdomen 5 times
  • Repeat as needed until the object comes out, and the person can speak, breathe or cough or until they become unresponsive.
  • If they become unresponsive, call 911 and begin CPR.

Note: If a patient is able to cough forcefully and move air, don’t touch them! Encourage them to cough and call 9-1-1 if needed.

For more details on Choking relief and other First Aid emergencies, Enroll in a First Aid CPR AED training class.