You’re at a restaurant. Your friend clutches her throat — a piece of food is blocking her airway. She can’t speak -she can’t cough. She’s choking. Do you know what to do?
Your toddler finds a forgotten peanut behind the kitchen cabinet. He swallows it and it becomes lodged in his throat. He’s in distress but he can’t make a sound. Can you help him?
YES. By learning the Heimlich maneuver — a simple lifesaving technique — you may literally save the life of a choking victim.
The Basic Heimlich
Do not perform the Heimlich maneuver if the victim is coughing, speaking, or breathing. If the person cannot cough, speak, or breathe, proceed as follows:
1. Stand behind the victim and wrap your arms around his or her waist.
2. Clasp your hands together in a doubled fist and place the fist (thumb side in) just below the victim’s rib cage and above the navel.
3. Press into the victim’s abdomen (not the rib cage) with a quick, upward thrust. Repeat the thrusts until the object is dislodged.
Note on performing this maneuver on infants and toddlers up to one year of age:
- Sit down to support the child with your thigh as you hold the child face down on your forearm.
- Use the heel of your other hand to give four light and rapid blows between the shoulder blades.
- If unsuccessful, turn the child on his or her back and put two fingers on the child’s breastbone just below the nipples.
- Depress the chest 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Do this quickly four times.