Family safety: You should know the Heimlich too!

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post intends to substitute or correct professional instruction or assistance.

Last week I was eating out in a pizza place and something a bit disturbing happened.

A kid choked with his food. And I don’t mean coughing and flailing choking, I mean he couldn’t breathe, which is so much quieter (and creepier). But that wasn’t what I found disturbing. What I couldn’t get over was the fact that all women inside that restaurant began screaming and running around hysterically and no one followed the appropriate steps in such an emergency. In fact, forget about the whole protocol, two steps would’ve been enough.

1. Remain calm.

2. Apply the Heimlich.

About a dozen ladies got up and crowded the table where the kid was sitting, but only one of them came back to hers and asked someone to call 911. The mother of the kid kept hitting him with all her might on his lower back, which threw him to the floor and could have hurt his lungs. His grandmother only screamed, which I suppose only scared him further. It was a total mess.

I have general knowledge of first aid protocol because when I was in college I took an intensive course that covered the basics of most situations (choking, CPR, someone drowning etc). That was the first time I heard a paramedic state that IN EVERY FAMILY AT LEAST ONE PERSON SHOULD BE TRAINED IN FIRST AID BASICS. I couldn’t agree more.

I want to invite you today to be that person for your family and/or for yourself. There are a lot of very short courses you can participate in and I can assure you; six hours (or maybe less!) could save your life or the life of someone you love.

But since I have an opportunity here; I will also point out that, regarding choking, there are a few things you should know that are effective and helpful:

1. For the love of God, keep it together. This has to do with personality but also, much with visualisation and purpose. Maintaining your focus and clear head will make all the difference in the world. Screaming or being hysterical will only make it harder for important information to get through, it will scare present kids and just make it a lot harder to get everything back to normal. Remain calm and positive.

2. Instruct someone to call 911. This person should stay on the phone reporting the progress of the situation. Things will be alright soon (positive thinking!) and you’ll want to have the medics available to tell them it was only a piece of chicken! And it’s now sticking to the wall! And all is good.

3. Check the mouth of the person choking. If you can see the object blocking the airway reach for it with one or two fingers using a scooping motion and being careful not to push it further down.

4. If you can’t see what’s in there or if you can’t reach it; proceed with the Heimlich manoeuvre.

The Heimlich can be applied to pets and even on yourself with a couple of variations. Heimlich is not recommended for babies; there are alternative techniques that require professional training.

On a last note: it really isn’t wise to give excessively cheesy (or otherwise hard to swallow) foods to youngsters. And always make sure they are eating small and appropriate portions in each bite.

On this coming Holiday season I feel compelled to remind you to BE SAFE! Make it a priority to have the knowledge to safe yourself and your family today.


4 thoughts on “Family safety: You should know the Heimlich too!

    • narami says:

      Oh, yes, the kid moved to a great position intuitively (face down on all four extremities), someone kept hitting him and somehow he forced the cheese out. He was purple when he sat on his chair again, but he was ok.

      I hope one of you two has a first aid class under your belt! If not, this is a great time to plan that, new Christmas gift for everyone in the family! :o)


      • tgaw says:

        Oh good. I am so relieved to read that. My husband’s mother is a Labor and Delivery Nurse and she taught us how to address an infant choking. It might be good to get some additional training as it has been years since I have been trained in adult CPR and Heimlich. Thanks for sharing this story and providing motivation!


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