Could you save the life of someone choking?

Posted: 6/1/2013 2:25 PM by Interim HealthCare
June 1st was Heimlich Maneuver day which is an emergency technique for preventing suffocation when a person's airway (windpipe) becomes blocked by a piece of food or other object. It can be used safely on both adults and children, but most experts do not recommend it for infants less than 1 year old. You can also perform the maneuver on yourself. Invented in 1974 with a team of Jewish Hospital researchers, Dr. Henry Heimlich claims the procedure and its abdominal thrusts -- into the stomach above the navel and up against the diaphragm to force air from the lungs and remove obstructions -- have saved the lives of 100,000 potential choking victims.

The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person doesn't give the signal, look for these indications:
  • Inability to talk
  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
  • Inability to cough forcefully
  • Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky
  • Loss of consciousness
How to perform the Heimlich Maneuver:

If the person is sitting or standing, stand behind him or her.
  • Form a fist with one hand and place your fist, thumb side in, just below the person’s rib cage in the front.
  • Grab your fist with your other hand.
  • Keeping your arms off the person’s rib cage, give four quick inward and upward thrusts.
  • You may have to repeat this several times until the obstructing object is coughed out.
If the person is lying down or unconscious, straddle him or her and place the heel of your hand just above the waistline.
  • Place your other hand on top of this hand.
  • Keeping your elbows straight, give four quick upward thrusts.
  • You may have to repeat this procedure several times until the obstructing object is coughed out.
Choking is deadly. The National Safety Council lists choking as America's No. 4 cause of accidental death behind poisoning (35,600 deaths annually), vehicles (35,500) and falls (28,000). In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled, choking claimed 4,700 lives, a 4 percent increase over 2009.

Below is a videos you may find helpful on how to preform the Heimlich Maneuver: