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How to perform the heimlich maneuver

The other day I almost choked on a peanut (seriously) and got quite frantic when I realised that no one at home knew how to do the Heimlich Maneuver. That peanut quickly got coughed out, but what about next time...?


The Heimlich Maneuver is a technique that can be used for preventing a choking death when a person’s throat becomes obstructed by a piece of food or some other object. The Heimlich maneuver can be used safely on both adults and children, but many experts do not recommend it for infants that are 1 year or younger. It is also possible to perform the maneuver on yourself if needed.





Bear in mind that a choking victim cannot speak or breathe and your help is needed immediately, and that hand signals normally indicate a person in distress.

How to perform the Heimlich Maneuver:

  1. Position yourself behind the person who is in trouble and place your arms around their waist. They might be sitting or standing at the time.

  2. Make a fist with the thumb side of your hand touching just above the persons belly button. Wrap your other hand on top of your fist.

  3. Thrust your fist upward and inward into the upper stomach area. This motion forces air out your windpipe to dislodge the obstructed object.

  4. Repeat thrusting motions until the object is cleared and dislodged from the throat.

What to do if the patient is unconscious:

  1. Place the choking victim on their back.
  2. Straddle the victim, sitting on their hips,  so you are facing their stomach.
  3. Place the heel of your hand above their belly button and below their ribcage. Place your other hand on top of the other.
  4. Use your body weight to push upward into their stomach with a quick thrust.
  5. Repeat as necessary until the object has been removed.

* Slapping of the victims back could cause the obstructing object to become stuck even worse.



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