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What do you do if you are choking?

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Choking is a scary sensation. Whether it is you or someone else, it is important to stay calm and take the appropriate steps to dislodge whatever may be blocking the airway. There are a number of telltale signs someone is choking and may need assistance. Some of these signs may include gagging, coughing, wheezing, hands wrapped around the throat, inability to talk or a panicked behaviour. But what do you do if you are the one choking?

While choking may feel embarrassing it is important to not isolate yourself to dislodge the blockage as there will be no one around to help you if you are unsuccessful. Put your hands up to your throat to indicate to those around you that you are choking and need help. It is important to cooperate with people trying to help you to dislodge the blockage as fast as possible. It is also crucial to know what to do if you find yourself choking with no one around to help.

If you can cough or make any sound, that means your airway is not completely blocked. If that is the case, try to cough as forcefully as possible. It is important to not drink water as this could make the problem even worse. Next try abdominal thrusts on yourself. Make a fist and place it below the ribcage with your thumb facing inwards. Place you other hand over top and quickly and forcefully thrust inwards and up. This will hopefully provide enough force to dislodge the blockage. If that doesn’t work find a sturdy chair and quickly / forcefully lean over the back of the chair. Repeat any of the methods listed above as many time as necessary.

It is also recommended to call 911, even if you can’t fully talk. Emergency responders will be sent to ensure your best chance at survival. The best preventative measure is to pay attention to the food you’re eating. Chew your food!