If someone is choking:
1. Determine if the airway block is mild or severe.
– Mild airway block: the person can talk or make sound and/or can cough loudly.
– Severe airway block: the person cannot breathe, talk, or make sounds or has a cough that has no sound or makes the choking sign.
2. The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat.
To help with mild choking in an adult or child over 1 year old:
1. Encourage the person to keep coughing to try and clear the blockage.
2. Ask the person to try to spit out the object if it’s in their mouth.
3. Don’t put your fingers in their mouth to help them as they may bite you accidentally.
4. If coughing doesn’t work, start giving sharp blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand (back blows).
To help with severe choking in an adult or child over 1 year old:
1. Stand behind the person and slightly to one side. Support their chest with one hand. Lean the person forward so that the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.
2. Give up to five back blows.
3. Check if the blockage has cleared.
– Stand behind the person who is choking.
– Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward.
– Clench one fist and place it right above their belly button.
– Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
– Repeat this movement up to five times.
5. If the person’s airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, call 9-1-1 immediately to activate EMS.
6. Continue with the cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives.
If the person is obese or pregnant, do high abdominal thrusts:
1. Stand behind the person, wrap your arms around them, and position your hands at the base of the breast bone.
2. Quickly pull inward and upward.
3. Repeat until the object is dislodged.
The Cayman Islands Red Cross offers classes on infant CPR and infant first aid for choking. For more information, contact the Red Cross at redcross.org.ky.
Disclaimer: The Emergency Guide is provided as a reference only. Every effort has been taken to acquire and publish accurate information provided by medical authorities. In case of emergency, always call or have someone CALL 9-1-1.