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Basic First Aid Choking Techniques

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While the human body is designed to eat, things don't always go as smoothly as we would like, which is why first aid choking techniques are important to learn. Whether it's a child who's tried to eat something that's too big to chew or an adult who accidentally inhaled when they should have swallowed, choking is a terrifying experience for everyone. In order to help the victim (or even yourself), here are some simple steps to first aid choking assistance.

Check the Airway

When we cough or have something stuck in our throats, it doesn't necessarily mean that we are choking or about to choke – which is a matter of confusion to some people. The first step in any first aid choking scenario is to check to see if the person can not breathe. If they can not talk and they are holding their neck, it's generally assumed that they are telling you that they can not breathe. To double check, ask them if they can talk. Children might not be able to show you that they are unable to talk, so look for head shaking and turning.

The Heimlich Maneuver

If you've determined that first aid choking assistance is necessary, you will want to get behind the person, taking your left hand and making a first, then covering it with your right hand, as though you were giving this person a hug. A few inches below their bellybutton, place this large fist and thrust upwards to dislodge the foreign object. It might take a few tries to do this and don't be shy about pressure. The point is to make the air in the diaphragm push upwards on the lungs to expel the food or other item in the throat. This technique should be done only on larger children and adults, never babies or pregnant women. Special techniques are necessary in these cases.

On Your Own

Sometimes you might find that you are choking when no one else is around – what do you do then? In these cases, first aid choking techniques still apply, but you will need to push your abdomen against something hard to simulate the effect of someone pushing on your diaphragm. Find a sturdy chair or a counter to help you expel the item.

While in most cases first aid choking skills may not be necessary because your body is good at taking care of itself and coughing up the item, it never hurts to know what to do should your spouse or partner have troubles with that piece of shrimp. The body can't live without air, after all.




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