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Danger: This is how you should act in case of emergency

As a health disclosure portal, we will remember action guidelines in the event of an emergency due to choking, a situation that we can find in our daily environment.

Let’s review what should be done and what should be avoided (myths and mistaken beliefs), to know how to act when choking in children, adolescents, adults … And in ourselves. In the video you have a review-summary of the most important, which we will discuss below:

If the person is coughing, and can cough, we should not do any of this: neither give water, nor pat him on the back. This can be counterproductive, it can move the food or element that obstructs and embed it more, while the cough is a mechanism to expel foreign bodies. We should encourage coughing, waiting to detect if the person is not capable and needs help.

If you are not able to cough and ask for help or bring your hands to your throat, the blockage may be complete. In that case, it is essential to know the Heimlich maneuver. We will describe the possible situations:

Choking in adult

  • To perform the Heimlich maneuver, you must stand behind the person who chokes. You will both be standing. Separate the legs to gain support base. You have to be prepared also in case the person faints, so that you can hold it and you must help to place it on the ground without falling abruptly.
  • To make the Heimlich maneuver you must locate the navel. Close the fist and place the thumb in the center of the abdomen of the person who chokes, above his navel. With your other hand, cover your fist and you must squeeze fast in a single movement that goes in and up. Repeat several times, with force and directing the movement up, in order to facilitate the expulsion of the object that causes choking.
  • If the person faints, or was already on the floor (from 0:50 on the video), stand on top and bend over so you can press with the heel of your hand, with the help of your other hand, right on the side below the sternum. The pressure, as in the previous case, must be firm, in an inward and upward movement, repeating several times if necessary.
  • In the case of performing the maneuver in a pregnant woman or an obese or bulky person that you can not surround with your arms, when performing the foot maneuver you must perform the pressure with your fist and help the other hand in the same point mentioned in the previous paragraph: just below the sternum of the choking victim (1:09 in the video).
  • In case of a corpulent person or very obese, which can not be surrounded with your arms, you can perform the maneuver using the backrest of a chair to exert pressure (we will see the use of the chair also in the case of performing the maneuver if one chooses oneself).

Choking of children and babies

  • From 1:15 on the video shows the maneuver for babies (less than 12 months). You must hold the baby face down with the head tilted and in a lower position. Strike between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand, repeat five times. Check if you have expelled the food or object that causes the choking.
  • If not, you should compress in the center of the chest with two fingers, with the baby already facing up. Repeat five times.
  • In case of choking a child, in the same way as in adults, coughing should be encouraged. It can also be effective to apply the five strokes with the heel of the hand between the shoulder blades.
  • Depending on the age and height of the child, the maneuver can be performed as in adult , careful not to apply too much force (that does not raise the child from the ground). It may be necessary to bend down or kneel down to the proper height.

What to do if you are choking

If you get choked and nobody knows or knows how to do the maneuver, or you find yourself alone and can not ask for help from anyone nearby, you can apply the Heimlich maneuver on yourself (from 1:30 on the first video).

The position of the hands is the same: closed fist, thumb in the abdomen above your navel, and pressed by your other hand, with a quick movement in and up, repeating several times.

You can rest on the edge of the back of a chair and push the top of your abdomen on the backrest.

Tips to reduce the risk of choking

  • Cut the food into very small pieces. Special care in foods such as ham, seafood, molluscs … Whose texture requires that they be chewed well to be swallowed with security.
  • Chew well, without hurry.
  • Avoid laughing, talking, distracting … While chewing and swallowing.
  • Drink a little water to help chew and swallow heavy or dense foods.
  • Avoid that children and babies are exposed to objects that may accidentally ingest.
  • Prevent children from running or playing with food or objects in their mouths.

In any case, action should be sought from the health personnel as soon as possible, but it is important to know the maneuver because of the need to act urgently.

If a person chokes and the Heimlich maneuver is performed, he should go to a health center afterwards to assess his condition and the consequences .


We have mentioned in previous occasions the importance of knowing the CPR maneuvers to save a life in case of cardiac arrest, and the basic guidelines of action before a head trauma. To this information we add the importance of knowing the Heimlich maneuver, to know how to act in case of choking.

All these are situations that can arise in everyday life or in practice or attendance at sports events and we must know how to act and, at least, know and avoid erroneous beliefs (no, the language is not swallowed).

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