According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, choking is the fifth leading cause of unintentional deaths in the United States. The Heimlich maneuver is a choking relief technique. Choking occurs when a person cannot breathe because food, a toy, or another foreign object gets lodged in their windpipe (trachea) or throat. Abdominal thrusts are another name for the Heimlich maneuver. It can be performed on both adults and children in various ways. However, we do not recommended for infants. We have created a detailed Heimlich Maneuver guide to answer all your questions.
Benefits of the Heimlich Maneuver
The Heimlich maneuver is a simple, easy-to-learn first-aid procedure that can save a person from being killed by a morsel of food or a child after putting a small toy in their mouth. Knowing the Heimlich Maneuver allows you to save the life of someone whose airway has been blocked by accidentally inhaled food or a wrongly swallowed/inhaled object that prevented air and oxygen from reaching the lungs.
How should we perform the Heimlich Maneuver?
Use the Heimlich maneuver only if the person is choking but is conscious. You can usually tell if someone is choking and if the person is unable to speak, breathe, or cough. Ensure to ask the person if they are choking at first. They may be able to cough, but they cannot talk to request assistance. Their breathing and speaking become increasingly weak until you can hear only gasping sounds. You will also understand when the choking person displays the universal choking symbol, with hands raised and clutching the throat.
Steps to perform the Heimlich maneuver:
- Stand behind the choking person. Place your arms around the abdomen of the victim.
- Make a fist with one hand. Bring your other arm around and firmly wrap it over the fist.
- Put your fist just below their ribcage and about two inches above their belly button (navel).
- Sharply and quickly thrust your hands inward and upward at least five times.
- Repeat until the object is freed and dislodged, or the person falls unconscious. Begin CPR immediately or call 911 without delay if the person becomes unconscious.
If you are choking alone and have no one to help you, you can perform the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself. To perform the Heimlich Maneuver on self, follow the steps below:
- Make a fist with one hand and tightly wrap your other hand around it.
- Place your fist’s thumb side just below your ribcage and about two inches above your belly button (navel). For additional strength, you can bend over on a chair, table, or counter which is at your waist height.
- Five times sharply and quickly thrust your hands inward and upward.
- Repeat this procedure until the object is released or dislodged.
The procedure for the Heimlich Maneuver is similar for children over the age of one year. For young children, you may need to kneel and place your fist just above the child’s belly button. When dealing with a child, you should not use as much force as you would with an adult; do not thrust hard enough to lift the child off their feet.
In the case of babies younger than 1-year, place the baby face-up on a flat surface. Place two fingers at the center of the baby’s breastbone, just below the nipple, and make five quick thrusts. For infants, backslaps (back blows) are still recommended. CPR is preferable in cases of unconscious infants, children, and adults.
Who can learn the Heimlich Maneuver?
Anyone, at any time, can choke on anything, and everyone should be ready in case of a choking emergency! Is there an answer to ending preventable choking deaths? It’s the Heimlich Maneuver. Learning the Heimlich maneuver is easy, because it consists of four simple steps. If you are unfamiliar with this technique, you should learn it.
Where to learn the Heimlich Maneuver technique?
You can learn the Heimlich Maneuver online or in physical first aid classes. If you learn this technique, you can prevent accidents due to choking. First aid online training provides convenience, flexibility in busy schedules, and online resources to assist you in learning and maintaining these lifesaving skills. The Heimlich Maneuver is one of the many first aid and CPR techniques you will learn if you obtain a CPR and first aid certification.
Even if you were able to dislodge the obstruction yourself, make sure your victim is examined by a doctor. Sometimes the body goes into shock, and the victim is unaware that there has been internal damage done to the body. Learning first aid and CPR can help you save lives. Register today at American CPR Care Association for CPR and First Aid online certification!