Choking can eventually lead to respiratory arrest, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Dealing with a choking person can prevent them from getting worse and heading into a possibly fatal situation.

When someone is choking, their airway is partly or completely blocked which means they are unable to breathe properly. They might be able to clear it by coughing, but if they can’t you will need to help them straight away.

In the event that a person is choking on something they ingested, coughing is the body’s way of trying to get rid of any foreign body that might be the cause. If you see person choking, ask them if they are choking. if the person can breathe, respond to you, or is coughing affectively, the best thing to do for them is to encourage the coughing and perhaps leaning them a little forward to help with the dislodging of the foreign body. you can also help remove anything in the mouth if it is obvious and easy to remove (DO NOT do blind finger sweeps).

If they are not coughing affectively and are getting worse, there are some things you can do to help:

  • Perform back blows
    • Lean them forwards, supporting their upper body with one hand.
    • With the heel of your other hand give them five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades.
    • After each back blow, check to see if there’s anything in their mouth. sometimes the back blow can dislodge the foreign body and you would be able to take it out
  • Perform Abdominal Thrusts (or Heimlich Maneuver)
    • Stand behind them and put your arms around their waist.
    • Place one hand in a clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest, directing the thump knuckle inwards towards them.
    • With your other hand, grab your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times. Once again, check the mouth after each thrust
  • If the blockage is not cleared
    • Call 999/112 for emergency Help
    • Continue doing 5 back blows and abdominal thrusts until help arrives, or the blockage is released