Published: 04/30/2015 - Updated: 12/29/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Anyone could become victim to choking, unable to catch your breath, and unfortunately, this could lead to death. That’s why we need to be prepared so we know how to react and help immediately if this happens to a family member, a friend, or even a stranger that could be in this situation. You may be able to help prevent a fatal situation.
A few days ago I was absolutely floored to find out that a young girl died in a restaurant when she choked on a piece of meat, because none of the other diners there knew first aid. This wasn’t because they didn’t want to, or because they were insensitive, but because they didn’t know how to help.
When the firefighters and the medics arrived, it was already too late.
First step if choking happens
The first thing is to find out if the individual can breath. If they can breathe and they are Dry cough, do not interfere. Helping in that moment would consist of waiting until the cough forces out any sort of food that is stuck.
If the individual is not breathing, does not make any sounds, but is conscious, you need to apply the Heimlich maneuver. In order to do this, stand behind the individual that is chocking.
Place your hands around their waste. Shape your right hand into a closed fist, with your middle finger towards the middle of their abdomen, just above the belly button. Use your left hand to wrap around your right fist.
Then squeeze, pushing hard in an upwards motion with both hands, over and over again until the object is dislodged and they start to breathe again.
If you have an older child, use the same procedure, however place your fist over your child’s belly button.
If the person faints and is unconscious, you need to call 9-1-1 immediately, while at the same time administering first aid.
Lay the person down, face up. If they aren’t breathing, tilt the head back. Raise their chin, squeeze their nostrils closed and perform mouth to mouth, making two complete exhales.
If they continue to be unresponsive, raise their head and try once again.
Abdominal thrusts comprise the following step. For this, sit on the affected individual’s legs. place the palm of your hand in the middle of their abdomen, just above the belly button and under the thorax.
Place your hands and fingers towards the individual’s head.
Give 6 to 10 quick up-down thrusts in this position.
More than likely, with these successive steps, the individual will come to and by that point, the medics should have already arrived to administer specialized attention.
If everyone were to have this information, there would be much less accidents during meal time.
Another way to avoid this type of food accident is to chew slower, especially when eating meats and stuffed foods. It’s better to take longer to enjoy your meals than to get scared from choking. And not to mention the gas you’ll have if you eat too quickly without chewing properly.
It’s also important not to talk while eating. You should put these recommendations into practice with your small children, who are more prone to choking at mealtime, or to choking on objects that they could put in their mouths.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 12/29/2017
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