First Aid Kit: Choking

Aaron is eating a hot dog when… He starts choking! If you see someone choking, the first step is to determine how serious it is. Choking happens when someone is not able to breathe due to a fully or partially obstructed windpipe or throat. It will often happen when food gets lodged when swallowing. If you think someone is choking, ask them: ‘Are you choking?’ If they can reply, it means their throat is only partially blocked. They should be able to clear it on their own by coughing. However, if they cannot reply, cry, cough or breathe, then it means that their throat is fully blocked. They need your help. Have the person bend forwards and stand behind them. Use the heel of your hand, the area between the palm and the wrist, to hit them firmly between the shoulder blades up to five times. This creates a strong vibration which can dislodge the food. If they are still choking, give up to five abdominal thrusts. This also known as the Heimlich Maneuver. Do not try the Heimlich manoeuvre on a baby under 1 year old or pregnant women, as it can be dangerous to them. Otherwise, stand behind the person, wrap your arms around their waist and bend them forwards. Make a fist with one hand and place it right above their belly button. Put your other hand on top of your fist. Then, pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times. If the person is still choking after doing five back blows and five abdominal thrusts, call 999 or your local emergency number. Continue doing five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives or until their throat has been cleared. To recap, if you think someone is choking, first ask: “are you choking?”. If they are, give up to 5 back flows and then 5 abdominal thrusts. If they are still choking, all 999 and continue alternating back blows and abdominal thrusts until help arrives. Now, Aaron cuts his hot dogs.


  1. I choked until I fell unconscious and my cousin called 911 and my cousin saved me before the ambulance came.

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