Emergencies and First Aid — Choking

The Family Health Guide


A person who is choking will instinctively grab at the throat. The person also may panic, gasp for breath, turn blue, or be unconscious (see p. 1216). If the person can cough or speak, he or she is getting air. Nothing should be done.

Immediate care
If the person cannot cough or speak, begin the Heimlich maneuver (see p. 1205) immediately to dislodge the object blocking the windpipe. The Heimlich maneuver creates an artificial cough by forcing the diaphragm up toward the lungs.

If you are choking and alone You can perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself by giving yourself abdominal thrusts. Or position yourself over the back of a chair or against a railing or counter and press forcefully enough into it so that the thrust dislodges the object.

Heimlich Maneuver on an Adult

Heimlich Maneuver on a Child

Heimlich Maneuver on an Infant