You love it when your daughter laughs. Her wide grin and tightly closed eyes paired with her high pitched giggle are infectious. Making her laugh over family dinner is the best part of your day. Until something goes wrong—desperately, tragically wrong. Her laugh turns into a frightened, shocked expression. She’s gesturing toward her throat and banging her hands on the table, eyes wide and frantic.
Would you know what to do? You’ve heard of the Heimlich Maneuver and seen the posters on restaurant walls for years, but in a moment when seconds count, would you know how to save the life of a loved one?
About 4,000 adults die annually from choking, and even more devastatingly, one child dies every five days in the U.S. as a result of choking. Every parent, child, friend, sibling, and adult should know how to administer the Heimlich Maneuver so that if the unthinkable happens, you can confidently respond with this life-saving tactic. Read on to learn the basics of how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver when someone—anyone—is choking.
Also known as abdominal thrusts, the Heimlich Maneuver was invented by the American thoracic surgeon Henry Heimlich. It is a technique to aid a person who is choking by applying rapid, quick thrusts to the person’s abdomen to lift the diaphragm and expel air from the lungs, causing the expulsion of the object lodged in the airway.
Note that the instructions below only apply when the victim is not:
Techniques vary when the victim is any of the individuals listed above. For more information, visit The Mayo Clinic.
Any of us could find ourselves in a situation where we are someone’s first line of defense in a dangerous and potentially deadly situation. By understanding the basics of life-saving first aid, we could save the life of a stranger or a loved one. Regardless of who they are, theirs is a life worth saving, and knowing the Heimlich Maneuver could give you the confidence you need to become an everyday hero.