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What To Do If Someone’s Choking In Front Of You? Panic?!?!

What To Do If Someone’s Choking In Front Of You? Panic?!?!

The Heimlich Maneuver is a life-saving first aid method to help someone who’s choking on food or any foreign objects by doing abdominal thrusts.

Melissa Suraya Ismail
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Have you ever wondered why our elders always prohibit us from eating/talking/laughing quickly?

Yes, table manner is one thing but the main reason behind this is so that we don’t choke.

Choking occurs when a foreign object lodges in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air and cutting the oxygen to the brain (suffocation).

Choking can be a serious hazard and can even lead to death if not treated quickly enough.

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This should be taken seriously and it’s best to equip ourselves with a little knowledge on choking.

How do you know if someone’s choking?

Thanks to the founder and chairman of MedTweetMy, Khairul Hafidz (@khairul_hafidz), he explained in-depth how to notice somebody choking and how to help them.

According to Mayo Clinic, the universal sign of choking is when someone is grasping their hands on their throat.

Here are some other indications that might help you identify the person to be choking:

  • Inability to talk or communicate well
  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
  • Squeaky sounds when trying to breathe
  • Weak or forceful coughing
  • Skin, lips and nails turning blue or darkish
  • Skin that flushes then turns pale or bluish in colour
  • Loss of consciousness

Ways to save the person from choking

The key method to remember is named the Heimlich Maneuver.

Heimlich Maneuver is a technique of abdominal thrusts that helps lift your diaphragm and expel air from your lungs. This will eventually cause the foreign object to be expelled from your airway.

Different people have different Heimlich techniques, especially if they’re pregnant women or babies.

However, the basic steps for the Heimlich Maneuver are:

  1. Stand at the back of the person choking with one foot forward for balance.
  2. Put your hands around their waists and lean the person forward.
  3. Make a fist with one hand (thumb side in) and put it in a position above the navel of the person, below the chest.
  4. Grab the fist with your other hand and push it inward and upward at the same time, as if you’re lifting the person up.
  5. Repeat this upward thrusts 6 – 10 times until the blockage successfully comes out.

So, how does saving a pregnant mother differs?

For pregnant women, you can’t be placing your hands directly above the navel of the woman. You don’t want to be pushing the wrong thing outta their body, they have a baby in there!

Instead, try this:

  1. Position your hands a little higher to their torso, around the base of their breastbone.
  2. Make the fist like earlier and grab it with your other hand.
  3. Give fast upward thrusts to the chest.

What about babies?

If the person is younger than 1 year (a baby), they are prone to choke on solid food or any foreign objects they can lay their hands on, straight into their mouths (world’s fastest hands!).

If a baby is choking, you need to follow other steps as their body is really small and fragile.

You can’t push the foreign object with your big fists, but you can use another technique such as this:

  1. Give five back blows.
    • Sit down and position the baby facedown on your forearm (by grabbing their jaw securely) which should be resting on your thigh.
    • With the heel of your palm, give the baby five blows (hit them firmly) in between their shoulder blades.
  2. Give 5 chest thrusts.
    • If that doesn’t work, position the infant face up and rest them on your thighs with their heads slightly lower than their trunk.
    • With your index finger and middle finger, place them at the centre of their breastbone and perform five quick chest compressions around 1 to 1.5 inches in depth.
    • Do the chest thrusts and back blows alternately until the baby coughs out the foreign object and can breathe on their own.
  3. Inspect the mouth of the baby if you can see the dislodged object.
    • If you can see the object, carefully pull it out with your fingers.

What if you’re in a rush and suddenly choke on your breakfast?

If there’s no one there to help you, you gotta be independent! This is a life or death situation so you need to act fast.

Here’s how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself:

  1. Place your own fist above your navel.
  2. Grab the fist with your other hand and lean forward on a hard surface (like a chair for example).
  3. Push the fists on the chair inward and upwards at the same time.

Everyone should equip themselves with these techniques if they can. You might not know when this knowledge would come out in handy but it might save a life one day.

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