Life Saving Tips To Save Your Own Life When Choking If Nobody Else Is Around
Choking happens when an object, most likely a piece of food, gets stuck in the throat or windpipe. This prevents oxygen from reaching the lungs where it would be sent to the brain and the rest of the body. If the brain is oxygen-deprived for only a few minutes, unconsciousness will occur. In 2011, choking was the fourth leading cause of injury or death following poisoning, car crashes and falls.
Very often there have been stories in the media of a person being saved from a choking death by a second person who performs the Heimlich Maneuver. This procedure is used to dislodge food trapped in the airway of the choking victim and prevents suffocation. It is done by standing behind the choking person, wrapping the arms around the waist slightly above the navel, making a fist with one hand and using the other to grab the fist and powerfully thrust inward and upward on the victim’s abdomen.
It is used on everyone over age one, with modifications for pregnant women.
But what if you are home alone and start to choke? You can indeed do the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself. Try not to panic. Do the following:
1. First and very important, grab the phone and dial 911. You may not be able to talk but you can leave the line open. Most communities have the ability to trace you. Leaving the line open will start an investigation and help will be sent. If you are an older adult with a safety device, activate it.
2. Stand with your belly against a countertop, sturdy chair, sink, or desk.
Press your upper belly forcefully against the edge while gripping the sides.
3. Repeat as necessary.
If no structures are available to do this, you can use your own fist to do the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself. Grab your fist with your other hand and place it against your upper belly slightly above your navel. Strongly press inward and upward. Keep repeating, as necessary.
The Heimlich Maneuver forces out the object which is lodged in the throat by increasing pressure within the chest. The object, when expelled, can create a popping noise like a carbonated soda bottle after it is shaken.
If, after removing the object, you still are having breathing problems, call 911 if they have not arrived. Should you have rib or abdominal pain, see a doctor to check for fractures or damage to internal organs, like the liver or spleen. Also, a small amount of food may have found its way into your lungs, which creates the possibility of pneumonia. Be watchful for any symptoms such as fever, cough, or wheezing. This may not occur for weeks.
It is always wise to review what led up to this. Do you cut your food into small enough pieces? Do you eat too fast? Do you chew thoroughly? Always stay hydrated. When the mouth is too dry, it can cause swallowing problems. Be sure to drink enough fluids.