Emergencies can occur without warning, taking us by surprise. One such life-threatening emergency is choking – a scenario where every second counts. Being equipped with the knowledge of first aid for choking can mean the difference between life and death.
Recognising the Signs of Choking
Recognising the signs of choking is the first step in offering timely aid. The person choking may clutch at their throat, show signs of panic, have difficulty speaking or breathing, have a weak or noisy cough, or display bluish lips or skin.
First Aid for Choking: A Basic Approach
If the person choking can still speak, cough, or breathe, encourage them to continue coughing – this might dislodge the blockage. However, if the person cannot cough effectively, make noise, or breathe, immediate intervention is required.
- Position yourself behind the person who is choking, and slightly to one side. Support their chest with 1 hand. Lean them forward so the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.
- Apply up to 5 back blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
- If the blockage is not dislodged, reposition yourself in front of the person, and support their upper back with 1 hand.
- Place the palm of your hand in the middle of the breastbone and apply up to 5 chest thrusts.
- Repeat back blows and chest thrusts until the object is expelled or the person becomes unconscious.
If the person becomes unconscious, you should begin Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
Please note that for infants, you should sit down and hold the infant face down along your forearm, which is resting on your thigh. Of course, the back blows and chest thrusts should not be as firm for an infant as you would apply for an adult, or you risk causing further physical harm.
For comprehensive instructions on managing choking in babies and children, consider our dedicated baby and child online first aid course.
Remember, performing first aid for choking can save lives, but it’s crucial to do it correctly – inappropriate or vigorous thrusts can cause injuries. The purpose is to dislodge the obstruction, not to harm the person.
First Aid Training: A Lifesaving Skill
It’s one thing to read about first aid for choking, and it’s another to perform these techniques effectively in real-life situations. This is where professional training comes into play. At First Aid Online, our courses – including our special course for first aid in an educational and care setting – are designed to give you the confidence and competence to act swiftly and effectively in emergencies.
Choking is a common but often preventable cause of unintentional injury or death. With the right first aid skills, you could save a life. So, why wait? Equip yourself with this lifesaving knowledge today – because knowing is saving.