A blockage in the throat that leads to choking can happen in moments and if not treated immediately and with the right care can lead to suffocation. Around 3000 adults die each year due to a choking incident, but a situation such as this can easily be avoided if these steps are followed:
- Assess the situation
Ask the person if they are choking. If the person can respond – wait – a person who is really choking will not be able to speak at all. Look for signs such as the choking sign (both hands on throat) or fingernails and lips turning blue from lack of oxygen.
- Administer first-aid
Communicate to the person that you will be administrating first aid that they welcome your assistance. If you are the only person able to help, first perform the First Aid below before calling emergency services. If there is someone else available, call them over for assistance.
- Give back blows
Stand behind the person and slightly off to one side. Support the person’s chest with one hand and lean the person forward that the object blocking the airway will exit their mouth. Administer 5 forceful blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. This is the part between your palm and wrist. Pause after each blow to see if the blockage has cleared. If this did not work, continue with abdominal thrusts.
- Administer abdominal thrusts
This maneuverer is only to be used on adults and children older than one year. Put your arms around the waist of the person and lean them forward. Make a fist with your hand and place it directly above the person’s navel (belly button) but below the breastbone. Put your other hand on top of the fist, and then thrust both hands backwards into the stomach with one hard upward movement. After each movement, inspect if the blockage has cleared.
- Make sure the object is completely gone
Once the airway is clear part of the object might have remained. If the person is able, ask them to spit and breathe without difficulty.
- Check to see if normal breathing has returned
Lastly, check if normal breathing has returned. If not, call Maponya 911 Rescue immediately on 086 196 0960.