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Do the Heimlich

If you or someone around you starts choking, you need to act fast. Choking happens when a foreign object gets stuck in the throat or windpipe. It only takes about four minutes with no oxygen for a choking victim to experience asphyxia, brain damage, or even death. Fortunately, with quick instinct and knowledge about live-saving techniques like the Heimlich maneuver, you can save lives.

When to Perform the Heimlich

The Heimlich maneuver is an accessible first aid technique to treat choking. If the victim swallows an object and can cough, encourage him or her to keep coughing. However, if the victim cannot make any sound or cough, he or she may be choking and unable to breathe. Dial 911 and start performing the Heimlich maneuver using the following scenarios as a guide.

  1. Standing Victim
    • If the choking victim is standing, stand behind the victim and wrap your arms around him or her.
    • Make a fist and place the thumb side of your hands on the victim’s upper abdomen below the rib cage and above the navel.
    • Use your hands to give a quick, abdominal thrust.
    • Repeat thrusts until the object comes out.
    • Standing Victim Heimlich

  2. Unconscious Victom
    • Repeat thrusts until the object comes out.
    • Straddle the torso with your knees alongside his or her body.
    • Place one hand on top of the other, and press the heel of your hand into the stomach above the navel and below the rib cage.
    • Use your body weight to press into the abdomen with quick, upward pressure.
    • Repeat thrusts until the object comes out.
    • Unconscious Victim Heimlich

  3. Performing it on Yourself
    • Make a fist and place the thumb side against your stomach, just below the rib cage and above the navel.
    • Grab your fist with the other hand and press upward for a quick abdominal thrust.
    • You can also lean over a chair or horizontal object and use your bodyweight to give yourself quick, upward stomach thrusts.
    • Repeat thrusts until the object comes out.
    • Self-Heimlich

When dealing with medical emergencies, immediate action is essential. Familiarize yourself with CHI St. Luke’s Health community emergency centers to find your nearest location for emergency medical help.

Sources:
How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver
What To Do If Your Child Swallows A Foreign Object

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