Choking requires a quick response to remove the airway obstruction before it leads to unconsciousness. These steps are for conscious adults and children aged 1 to 8.
For infants under 1 year old, see infant choking.
To see a demonstration of this technique, watch the Heimlich Maneuver Video.
- Stay Safe! Remember that victims may panic and inadvertently strike out.
- Establish that the victim is actually choking. Choking victims cannot speak, cough, or breath.
- Stand behind the victim.
- Wrap your hands around the victim as if to give a hug.
- Make a fist with your right hand and place it just above the victim's belly button - see graphic.
- Grab your fist with your left and thrust inwards and upwards forcefully.
- Repeat thrusts until the victim is able to breath again - or until the victim becomes unconscious.
- If the victim becomes unconscious, begin adult CPR if the victim is over 8 years old and child CPR if the victim is between 1 and 8 years old.
Source:ECC Committee, Subcommittees and Task Forces of the American Heart Association. "2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care." Circulation. 13 Dec 2005. PMID: 16314375