How To Perform the Heimlich Step-by-Step

Performing the Heimlich maneuver, also known as abdominal thrusts, is a technique used to help clear a foreign object that is obstructing someone's airway and causing choking. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on an adult or child who is conscious and choking:

1. Assess the Situation:

  • Determine if the person is genuinely choking. Look for signs of choking, such as:
    • Clutching their throat.
    • Inability to speak, breathe, or cough.
    • A bluish tint to the skin, lips, or nails (cyanosis).
  • If the person can cough forcefully or make sounds, encourage them to continue coughing to try and clear the obstruction on their own.

2. Gain Consent:

  • Approach the choking person calmly and ask, "Are you choking? Can I help you?" Gaining their consent is essential before proceeding.

3. Stand Behind the Person:

  • Position yourself behind the choking person.

4. Place Your Fist Above the Navel:

  • Locate the person's navel (belly button).
  • Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side against the middle of the person's abdomen, just above the navel.

5. Grasp Your Fist with Your Other Hand:

  • Hold your fist with your other hand to create a firm grip.

6. Perform Quick Abdominal Thrusts:

  • Deliver quick, upward thrusts into the person's abdomen using your upper body strength. The goal is to force air from their lungs to expel the obstructing object.
  • Use a quick and upward motion, similar to the motion of lifting someone under their arms.
  • Continue performing thrusts until the object is expelled, or the person can breathe or cough on their own.

7. Check the Person's Mouth:

  • After the object is expelled, check the person's mouth to ensure no residual pieces of the obstruction remain.

8. Seek Medical Evaluation:

  • Even if the person appears to have cleared the obstruction, they should seek medical evaluation to ensure there is no residual damage or risk of infection.

Important Notes:

  • The Heimlich maneuver should only be performed on someone who is genuinely choking and unable to breathe, cough, or speak.
  • If the person becomes unconscious or unresponsive, lower them to the ground, call 911 or your local emergency number, and begin CPR.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of bruising or soreness in the abdominal area due to the force of the thrusts.
  • It's essential to receive proper training in the Heimlich maneuver to perform it correctly. Consider taking a first aid and CPR course to learn this skill.

Remember that choking is a life-threatening emergency, and immediate action is crucial. Prioritize the safety and well-being of the person choking, and call for professional medical help if needed.

 CPR + First Aid Certification

Back to blog