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Choking is usually caused by a piece of foreign matter such as food becoming lodged in a person's windpipe. Because a choking victim is fully aware that he cannot breathe normally, a sense of panic may overcome them, making assessing the situation and rescue efforts difficult. It is important to try and keep the victim calm in order to determine whether your assistance is truly necessary or if the victim's own coughing reflex is sufficient.

Start by asking the person if he is choking. This simple step can be deceptively effective - the victim may be coughing violently or even gasping for air, but if he is able to answer then he is probably not choking. A choking victim will not be able to speak since oxygen cannot reach his lungs. But if after asking the person if he's choking all he can do is gesture or point to his throat and you notice his face starting to turn blue, then he is most likely choking and you will need to perform the Heimlich Maneuver immediately.

  • Start by finding the proper stance - behind the victim with one of your feet planted firmly between the victim's feet.

  • Wrap one of your arms around the victim and place your hand in a closed fist just slightly above his belly button.

  • Place your other hand directly on top of the first.

  • Squeeze the victim's abdomen in quick upward thrusts as many times as it is necessary to dislodge the object in his windpipe.
If you fail to clear the victim's air passage, dial 9-1-1 immediately and continue to perform the Heimlich Maneuver until help arrives.