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What to Know About the Heimlich Maneuver

Nov 7, 2022

What to Know About the Heimlich Maneuver

With the holiday season just around the corner, families and friends will soon gather from all around the country to enjoy a mouth-watering Thanksgiving feast. In honor of the holiday, the team at Midwest Express Clinic wants to give you a refresher on what to do in a choking incident, which is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. Use the following procedure to help keep you and your loved ones safe in a choking incident.

Signs of choking

When assessing a victim to see if they are choking, look for the following signs of distress.

  • Victim is unable to speak or breathe.
  • .Victim is not able to cough.
  • Victim is putting their hands around their throat to signal they are choking.

Before initiating the Heimlich maneuver, ask a bystander to call 911 and make sure the area is clear so you can begin the rescue procedure without any interference.

The Heimlich maneuver

Also known as abdominal thrusts, the Heimlich maneuver lifts a person’s diaphragm to expel air from the lungs, expelling the foreign object from the airway. This procedure is simple and easy to perform, but the steps differ depending on who the choking victim is.

For adults and children over 1 year of age:

  • Have the victim stand up and position yourself behind them.
  • Lean the victim forward and give five strong blows to their back with the heel of your hand.
  • Place your arms around the victim’s waist, then position your closed fist, thumb side in, right above the victim’s navel (belly button).
  • Grab the closed fist with your other hand and push it inward and upward five times.
  • Repeat these steps until the foreign object is expelled or help arrives.

For pregnant women:

When performing the Heimlich maneuver on pregnant women, the key difference is to place your hand higher on their torso, right around the breastbone when doing abdominal thrusts. If the pregnant victim is unconscious, lay them on their back and try to clear the airway with your finger in a sweeping motion.

For infants younger than 1 year of age:

  • Sit down and hold the infant face down on your forearm.
  • Give the infant five gentle back blows with the heel of your hand.
  • If the infant is still choking, position them face up and resting on your forearm and thigh.
  • Put two fingers at the center of their breastbone and perform five chest compressions.
  • Repeat these steps until the infant is no longer choking or help arrives.

On yourself:

If you are choking and nobody is around to help, follow these steps to clear your airway.

  • Make a fist and place it thumb side in above your navel (belly button).
  • Grab the fist with your other hand and push it inward and upward five times.
  • Repeat these steps until the airway is clear.

Another method is to find a corner of a table or kitchen counter or the back of a chair and thrust your upper abdomen against it to try and clear the airway.

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