Choking can occur when a foreign object, such as food or fluid, blocks the airway. The airway is the passage through which air moves from the nose and mouth through the trachea, or windpipe, and into the lungs.
- Signs of a severe airway obstruction –
- Poor air exchange and increasing difficulty breathing, a silent cough, gasping breaths, whistling or wheezing
- Pale or bluish skin, especially around the mouth (from lack of oxygen)
- Inability to talk or breathe
- Universal Sign for choking (the universal and naturally occurring sign for choking is a hand, or hands, around the neck.)
If the casualty exhibits any of these signs for choking, take the following steps:
- Prior to providing care for a Conscious Adult, a responder should first obtain consent. This is a very quick and simple procedure.
- Tell the casualty your name.
- Tell them you have been trained to assist in First Aid and/or CPR
- Ask the casualty if he/she wants help: “Can I help you?”
- Once the casualty indicates that they want your help (usually with an affirmative nod), begin care.
- Stand behind the choking adult or child.
- Make a fist and place the thumb side of the fist against the casualty’s abdomen, just above the navel and below the ribcage.
- Encircle the fist with the other hand and deliver quick inward and upward thrust into the abdomen.
- Repeat the thrusts in rapid and forceful sequence until the object is dislodged or until the casualty becomes unconscious.
- Thrust should be a firm, inward and upward movement and each thrust should be a separate attempt.
- If the casualty loses consciousness, follow steps 1 through 5 below.