First Aid for a Conscious Choking Casualty
Choking occurs when a foreign object becomes lodged in a victim’s windpipe (airway), blocking the flow of air into the lungs. Adults usually choke on a piece of food, while young children often choke on small objects. Because choking cuts off the supply of oxygen to the brain, you should administer first aid as quickly as possible.
Choking is one of the leading causes of accidental death in young children. For this reason, it is vital that parents and carers know how to respond to a choking emergency.
To best prepare yourself for choking situations, learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR in a certified practical first-aid training class.
Signs and Symptoms of Choking
Signs of severe choking include:
- The victim clutches their throat
- Is unable to talk
- Difficulty in breathing
- Is unable to cough forcefully
- Casualty’s skin, lips, and nails turn blue or dusky (cyanosis)
- The casualty loses consciousness
First Aid Treatment for Choking
- If you are the only rescuer, perform the back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling for emergency medical help
- Give five back blows between the victim’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand
- Perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver)
- Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged
- If the choking victim is unconscious, lower them to the floor, open their
airway and check to see if they are breathing
- Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the casualty is not breathing. The chest compressions used in CPR may help to dislodge the object.
Treatment For a Child Younger Than One
- Sit down, rest your forearm on your thigh and place the infant face down
over your forearm
- Using the heel of your hand, thump the infant firmly five times on the middle of their back. The combination of gravity and the back blows should release the obstruction
- If the foreign body doesn’t come out, turn the infant face up over your
forearm, making sure their head is lower than their trunk
- Place two fingers at the center of the infant’s breastbone, and give five quick chest thrusts
- Repeat the back blows and chest thrusts
- If the infant stops breathing, commence CPR immediately