How and When to Do the Heimlich Maneuver

The Heimlich maneuver, also known as abdominal thrusts, is a life-saving technique used to dislodge an object from a person's airway when they are choking. As a leading provider of health and safety education, MyCPR NOW understands the critical importance of knowing how and when to perform the Heimlich maneuver. In this guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of administering the Heimlich maneuver to save someone from choking.

I. Recognizing Choking

1. Signs of Choking: If a person is clutching their throat, unable to speak, cough, or breathe, and their face appears distressed, they may be choking.

2. Confirm Airway Obstruction: If the person is conscious, ask them if they are choking. If they nod or indicate yes, it confirms airway obstruction.

II. Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Adults and Children (Over 1 Year Old)

1. Stand Behind: Position yourself behind the choking person, ensuring they are standing or sitting.

2. Make a Fist: Form a fist with one hand, placing the thumb side against the person's abdomen, just above the navel and below the ribcage.

3. Grasp with Other Hand: With your other hand, grasp your fist and provide quick inward and upward thrusts into the abdomen.

4. Repeat: Continue performing abdominal thrusts until the object is expelled or the person becomes unconscious.

III. Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Infants (Under 1 Year Old)

1. Support the Infant: Hold the infant face down along your forearm, with their head lower than their body and supported by your hand.

2. Use the Heel of Your Hand: Place the heel of your hand on the infant's upper back, between the shoulder blades.

3. Perform Back Blows: Deliver five back blows using the heel of your hand to attempt dislodging the object.

4. Chest Thrusts: If back blows are unsuccessful, turn the infant face up, keeping their head lower than their body, and deliver five chest thrusts using two fingers on the center of their chest.

5. Repeat: Continue alternating between back blows and chest thrusts until the object is expelled or the infant becomes unconscious.

IV. When to Seek Emergency Help

1. If the person becomes unconscious, lower them to the ground carefully and immediately call for emergency medical help.

2. If the choking person is pregnant or is believed to be pregnant, perform chest thrusts instead of abdominal thrusts to avoid injuring the fetus.

V. Conclusion

MyCPR NOW emphasizes the importance of knowing how and when to perform the Heimlich maneuver to respond effectively in choking emergencies. Recognizing the signs of choking and promptly administering the Heimlich maneuver can save lives by dislodging the obstructing object and restoring the person's ability to breathe. By being prepared and knowledgeable, individuals can act as first responders during choking incidents, potentially preventing serious harm or even death. Remember, always seek medical attention for an unconscious choking victim to ensure they receive appropriate care and evaluation after the incident.

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