While in grade school, many of us learned the Heimlich maneuver. Today, the technique is now more commonly known as abdominal thrusts. Below is a refresher course on the proper way to perform abdominal thrusts on pregnant women, adults, children and even yourself.
Everything gets a little more complicated when the person choking is pregnant. Instead of placing your fist, thumb side in, just above the person's navel and reaching around to grab the fist tightly with the other hand, do so around the lower chest, just above the stomach. That'll help keep the baby safe while still letting you help out the mother. This technique can also be performed on obese individuals.
The following steps outline the proper way to perform an abdominal thrust in adults:
• For a conscious person who is sitting or standing, position yourself behind the person and reach your arms around his or her waist.
• Place your fist, thumb side in, just above the person's navel and grab the fist tightly with your other hand.
• Pull your fist abruptly upward and inward to increase airway pressure behind the obstructing object and force it from the windpipe.
• If the person is conscious and lying on his or her back, straddle the person facing the head. Push your grasped fist upward and inward in a maneuver similar to the one above.
Both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association acknowledge that back blows, abdominal thrusts and chest thrusts are effective ways to help a choking person recover.
However, the American Red Cross recommends back blows before starting abdominal thrusts and the American Heart Association formally recommends abdominal thrusts as the first-line procedure in choking emergencies.
In 2000, 160 children aged 14 years or younger died from choking either by inhaling or ingesting small objects. Chest thrusts in a baby should be performed with two fingers and not with the whole hand.
The steps highlighted above work when the victim is near at least one other person, but what if there is no one else around? Here are steps to help you if you are choking.
• Make a fist. Place the thumb below your rib cage and above your navel.