How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver

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Each year, many people die from choking on objects that obstruct their airways and cause suffocation. Choking is in fact the fourth leading cause of unintentional death. However, there is a simple technique you can use to help expel a trapped object from another person’s airway. You can even use a version of this technique on yourself.

The technique is called the Heimlich maneuver, or abdominal thrusts. Abdominal thrusts lift your diaphragm and expel air from your lungs. This causes the foreign object to be expelled from your airway. The Red Cross also recommends including five back blows, although some institutes, such as the American Heart Association, don’t teach this technique.

Standing victim—rescuer’s arms can reach around victim:

A choking victim can’t speak or breathe and needs your help immediately. Follow these steps to help a choking victim:

  • From behind, wrap your arms around victim’s waist.
  • Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against victim’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage, and just above the navel.
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into victim’s abdomen with a quick, upward pressure. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands.
  • Repeat until object is expelled.

Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself
  • Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against your abdomen, below the ribcage, and just above the navel.
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into your abdomen with a quick, upward pressure.
  • Repeat until object is expelled.

Alternatively, you can lean over a fixed horizontal object, such as a table edge, chair, or railing and press your abdomen against the edge to produce a quick, upward pressure. Repeat until the object is expelled.

 

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