The approach to managing a choking situation varies depending on the age of the person involved. Below are the general steps for babies, children, and adults.
For Babies (Under 1 Year Old):
- Check the Mouth: Carefully open the baby’s mouth and inspect for visible obstructions. Remove any you see with your finger if easy to reach. Avoid pushing the object further down.
- Position the Baby: Hold the baby face down along your forearm, supported by your thigh. Make sure the baby’s head is lower than the body.
- Back Blows: Use the heel of your hand to give up to 5 firm back blows between the baby’s shoulder blades.
- Chest Thrusts: After the back blows, if the object has not been expelled, turn the baby face-up on your forearm, still supporting the head. Place two fingers in the middle of the chest and give up to 5 downward thrusts.
- Assess: Check if the object has been coughed up or if the baby can breathe or cry. If the obstruction remains, repeat the steps.
For Children (Over 1 Year Old):
- Check for Choking: Make sure the child is actually choking. Signs include inability to speak, cough, or breathe.
- Back Blows: Stand to the side and slightly behind the child. Deliver up to 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
- Abdominal Thrusts (Heimlich Maneuver): Stand behind the child and place your arms around the waist. Make a fist with one hand and place it just above the navel. Grab your fist with the other hand and give up to 5 upward thrusts.
- Check: If the object is expelled, make sure to watch for any signs of distress and consult healthcare services.
- Identify Choking: Confirm that the adult is choking. Symptoms include clutching the throat, inability to talk, or turning blue.
- Back Blows: Stand to the side and slightly behind the person. Give up to 5 firm blows between the shoulder blades using the heel of your hand.
- Heimlich Maneuver: Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around their waist. Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side against the middle of the person’s abdomen, above the navel. Grasp the fist with your other hand and perform up to 5 quick, upward abdominal thrusts.
- Assess: Check to see if the object was expelled. If so, watch for any lingering symptoms and consult healthcare services.
Heimlich Maneuver Explained
The Heimlich Maneuver is a technique used to assist a person who is choking. It involves standing behind the individual and using upward abdominal thrusts to create pressure in the airway, which can expel the obstruction.
How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver in a choking situation:
- Stand behind the person who is choking.
- Place your arms around their waist.
- Make a fist with one hand and place it, thumb side in, above the person’s navel.
- Grab your fist with your other hand.
- Perform quick, upward thrusts to try to expel the object.
Perform up to 5 thrusts and reassess the situation. If the obstruction remains, repeat the process and seek immediate medical attention. Call 112.
For all age groups, if the person becomes unconscious, initiate CPR if you are trained to do so and continue until professional medical help arrives.