Choking is usually caused by a piece of foreign matter such as food becoming lodged in a person's
windpipe. Because a choking victim is fully aware that he cannot breathe normally, a sense of panic
may overcome them, making assessing the situation and rescue efforts difficult. It is important to
try and keep the victim calm in order to determine whether your assistance is truly necessary or if
the victim's own coughing reflex is sufficient.
Start by asking the person if he is choking. This simple step can be deceptively effective - the
victim may be coughing violently or even gasping for air, but if he is able to answer then he is
probably not choking. A choking victim will not be able to speak since oxygen
cannot reach his lungs. But if after asking the person if he's choking all he can do is gesture
or point to his throat and you notice his face starting to turn blue, then he is most likely choking
and you will need to perform the Heimlich Maneuver immediately.
If you fail to clear the victim's air passage, dial 9-1-1 immediately and continue to perform the
Heimlich Maneuver until help arrives.
- Start by finding the proper stance - behind the victim with one of your feet planted firmly between
the victim's feet.
- Wrap one of your arms around the victim and place your hand in a closed fist just slightly above
his belly button.
- Place your other hand directly on top of the first.
- Squeeze the victim's abdomen in quick upward thrusts as many times as it is necessary to dislodge
the object in his windpipe.