prevnews.gif (4660 bytes)
- The ARC - California Edition -

Back Home Up Next















The Heimlich Maneuver

The Heimlich maneuver is an emergency procedure used to treat choking victims whose airway is obstructed by food or another substance. It forces air from the lungs through the windpipe, pushing the obstruction out.

The Prevention of Choking

The respiratory system of homo sapiens is critical to our health and our lives. This system has the function of moving air into and out of the body -- bringing life sustaining oxygen in and expelling carbon dioxide. If this process is hindered or blocked, serious damage to the body may result, and if stopped for a period of time, death may be the result.

Periodically, a lay person may come across a situation where someone they observe is having a relatively common, yet serious, respiratory problem - the choking on food. You might have been in a restaurant when a person at a nearby table started acting strangely. What did you do then as the diner sputtered and gasped for air? What CAN we do if someone is choking?

About 25 years ago, a doctor named Henry J. Heimlich developed a very simple maneuver which can be a life saver in situations like this, in a restaurant, in the home, or anywhere. But in order for a person to prevent damage from these choking episodes, that person has to understand the Heimlich Maneuver, and must be prepared to react.

The Heimlich maneuver is to be used on CONSCIOUS choking victims. If a person can cough or speak, DO NOT use the maneuver, and donít pat them on the back.

If the victim can cough or speak, tell the person to cough forcefully, if possible. Very often, the piece of food will pop loose.

If that doesnít help and you can see whatever is caught in the victims throat, try to sweep it out of his or her mouth with your finger. Be careful not shove it farther down.

4. If the person who is choking can not breathe, cough, or make any sound, try the Heimlich maneuver. Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around his or her waist. Make a fist with on the hand and place it thumb side up against his or her belly, above the navel and below the ribs. Grab the fist with your other hand, and push it in and up. Repeat a series of five quick, thrusting motions or until the food comes free.

If you have taken these measures but the victim still can not breathe or speak, or his or her skin has turned a bluish color, call 911 as soon as practical. Protracted choking can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death.

If you are the one who is choking, are alone, and canít cough, then keep your elbows out and with your own fist perform the same in-and-up thrusting motion below your rib cage. Or bend over a railing or chair back, and shove your upper abdomen against it.

The Prevention of Death from Drowning

Over 90 percent of drowning victims have water in their lungs. It is extremely important to get such water out of their lungs. The Heimlich maneuver is also very effective in removing this water.

It has been 25 years since doctor Henry Heimlich introduced this lifesaving and disability prevention technique. Today is THE DAY to learn how to use this maneuver.


Back Home Up Next