A Loved One is Choking – What Would You Do?

Choking can happen to anyone, and young children and the elderly are at the highest risk for choking.  Having a CPR license or having taken a CPR training course can help give you the knowledge and skills on what to do if someone is choking.  When completing CPR group training, there are some universal standards in identifying if someone is choking.  A victim might clutch or hold their throat with their hands which is easy to recognize.  If there is an obstruction, they may be unable to talk or struggle with breathing.  A choking victim may also experience a change in skin color and may look pale or bluish in color if they have experienced a lack of oxygen.  If you are able to identify that someone is choking, then first aid may be given to them.

There are different first aid procedures to perform on someone who is choking and one of the main determining factors is if they are conscious or unconscious. If the victim is conscious, you need to ask for permission to help.  You can ask, “Do you need help?” or “Can I help you?”.  If they nod their head yes, then you may perform the Heimlich maneuver to help dislodge the obstruction.  If they shake their head no, you will only be able to call 911 for assistance.  If the person is unconscious, you do not need their permission to help and should call 911 before administering aid.  You can look to see if there is an obstruction in their mouth, but do not push on anything you cannot reach.  You can also perform chest compressions to try to dislodge an obstruction that way. During chest compression on an unconscious choking victim, check inside the mouth after each set of chest compressions to see if the obstruction has been removed.  You will not want to give emergency breaths in this circumstance.  If there is an obstruction, delivering emergency breaths could accidently lodge the obstruction deeper.

The Heimlich maneuver is universally used and accepted as a reliable method of helping a conscious choking victim.  While standing behind the victim, place one foot in front of the other for added stability. Put your arms around the victim’s waist while making a fist with one hand and grabbing the fist with the other hand. Your fisted hand should be just above the victim’s belly button. Use quick inward and upward thrust for up to ten times to remove the blockage. 

Back blows are another first aid method that you will learn in CPR first aid classes online. Using back blows will still require you to call 911 before starting. Have the victim bend over while you are stand next to them for support.  Their waist and legs should make a 90-degree angle.  Administer up to ten blows to the center of their back to try to dislodge the obstruction. There are different CPR certifications to accommodate a variety of needs in our community and to serve a variety of different backgrounds.  Signing up for CPR training classes can help make sure that you’ll know exactly what to do if someone you love is choking.

CPR & First Aid Certification

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