Each year, many people die from choking on objects that eventually obstruct the airway and cause suffocation. But there is a simple technique that can be used on both adults and children older than 1 year of age to help expel the object. The technique is called the “Heimlich Maneuver” or simply “abdominal thrusts.” Abdominal thrusts lift the diaphragm and expel air from the lungs, causing the object to be expelled from the airway.
To perform the Heimlich maneuver:
- Determine whether you need to do abdominal thrusts. A person who is choking may be able to dislodge the object on his own. But if the person is not coughing or is unable to speak, or if he or she signals to you for help, have him stand up, then:
- Position yourself behind the victim.
- Place your arms around his or her waist.
- Make a fist and place it just above the navel, thumb side in.
- Grab the fist with your other hand and push it inward and upward at the same time.
- Repeat the maneuver until the object is expelled.
- If the person cannot stand up, straddle the person's waist, facing the head. Push your fist inward and upward in the same manner as you would if he were standing.