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Home »Emergencies » Choking


Choking is the kind of emergency in which the chance of getting the victim to a doctor in time is almost nil. Without immediate help, the person can die, or at least suffer permanent brain damage, within four minutes. That is all the more reason for you to keep your wits about you and familiarise yourself with the skills and techniques that might one day save a life - including your own.

Cough it out:
If the airway is only partially obstructed, violent coughing and sputtering will generally dislodge the obstructing mass.

Perform the Heimlich manoeuvre:
If the victim is not getting air, and his/her throat is blocked, don't wait for medical help. Take first-aid steps for choking immediately. Stand behind the victim and wrap your arms around his waist. Place your fist with the thumb side against the victim's abdomen slightly above the navel and below the rib cage. Grasp your fist with your other hand and pull it into the victim's abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Repeat the movement several times if necessary. (The American red Cross also recommends four sharp slaps between the shoulder blades before applying the abdominal thrusts.)
If he's collapsed on the floor, press his abdomen with a quick upward thrust with the heel of your hand.

If you are choking:
no one is present to aid you, you can save your own life by pressing your fist into your abdomen with your other hand. Or lead forward to press your abdomen over a solid object such as a piece of furniture.

Sweep it out:
Once the object has been dislodged, you can try to remove it manually, but see it before you put a finger in the mouth, or you may force it even further down the throat. Move your index finger along the inside of the cheek to the base of the tongue. Using your finger as a hook, dislodge the object and sweep it into the mouth so that it can be removed.

After the rescue:
seek medical advice. Sometimes, internal damage may occur from the abdominal thrust itself. The risk is however justified as the victim will survive only if his airway is quickly cleared.

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