Chapter 5 Choking Emergency First Aid | CPR Care Association

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Chapter 5: Choking Emergencies


A choking emergency (considered to be a medical emergency) is when an obstruction (object or food) blocks the airway and prevents air from getting to the lungs. The person is not able to breathe normally or cough. This section covers adult and child choking emergencies.


Consumption of alcohol / drugs
Hard objects (i.e., marbles, coins) are more common hazards amongst children
Not chewing food properly
Poor fitting dental work
Talking or laughing while eating

Signs and Symptoms:

Difficulty breathing or wheezing
Holding the neck with one or both hands; using the universal choking sign
Inability to talk
Passing out
Turning blue
Shortness of breath or troubled breathing

First Aid Actions / Treatment:

  1. If a person is choking, ask “Are you choking?” If the person nods or is unable to breathe or respond, tell the person that you are trained in CPR and that you are going to help.
  2. Stand or kneel behind the person.
  3. Make a fist with one hand and place it on the person’s abdomen just above the belly button.
  4. Grab your fist with the other hand and give quick, upward abdominal thrusts.
  5. Continue abdominal thrusts until the object is dislodged and the person can breathe or cough forcefully, OR person becomes unconscious.
  6. For pregnant women or someone too large for you, give chest thrusts instead of abdominal thrusts.
  7. If an adult or child becomes unconscious, follow the steps to perform adult / child CPR.

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