• Choking Prevention and Safety Tips

    ​​Know the signs and how to react if you find yourself in the presence of someone who's choking.

  • Fourth Leading Cause of Unintentional Injury Death

    ​According to Injury Facts 2015, choking was the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in 2011, following poisonings, motor vehicle crashes and falls. While choking is a hazard for all ages, choking deaths peaked at age 84 in 2011, with 159 deaths.

    Foods are responsible for many choking incidents, especially in the elderly. Choking can cause a simple coughing fit or something more serious like a complete blockage of the airway, which can lead to death. A few simple behaviors can keep you and your loved ones from choking, such as chewing food slowly and not drinking too much alcohol. 

  • Choking Infants and Children

    Choking hazards for children include food, toys and household items. Signs of a choking child include:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • A weak cry or cough
    • Bluish skin color
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Inability to make a sound
    • High pitched sounds while inhaling


    To prevent choking in children, keep small objects out of reach, cut food into small pieces and don't let them have hard candy. Young children should be supervisied while eating and playing.

  • Choking in Older Adults

    ​In older adults, having dentures and difficulty with swallowing can increase their risk of choking. Older adults who live alone may not have the help they need if they choke. Choking adults will be coughing, gagging or wheezing, and they may pass out or turn blue.

  • What Should You Do?

    • Call 911 immediately
    • If the victim is coughing forcefully, encourage continued coughing to clear the object
    • A person who can't cough, speak or breathe needs immediate help; ask if they are choking and let them know you will use abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver)
    • If the victim is or becomes unresponsive, lower the person to the ground, expose the chest and start CPR with 30 chest compressions; look inside the mouth each time you give breaths and remove any object
    • For a responsive pregnant victim, or any victim you cannot get your arms around or for whom abdominal thrusts are not effective, give chest thrusts from behind; avoid squeezing the ribs with your arms
    • Even after choking stops, it’s important to seek medical attention


    What is the Heimlich Maneuver?


    If a choking victim is responsive but unable to cough, speak or breathe, you will need to perform the Heimlich Maneuver as an emergency procedure to prevent suffocation. The procedure is not recommended for children younger than 1, but it is generally considered safe for children older than 1, according to the National Library of Medicine.

    • Stand behind the victim with one leg forward between the victim's legs
    • For a child, move down to the child's level and keep your head slightly to one side
    • Reach around the abdomen and locate the person's navel using a finger from one hand
    • Make a fist with the other hand and place the thumb side of the fist against the person's abdomen just above the navel
    • Grasp your fist with your other hand and thrust inward and upward into the victim's abdomen with quick jerks
    • Continue abdominal thrusts until the victim expels the oject or becomes unresponsive
    • If the victim becomes unresponsive, begin CPR

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