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Heimlich Maneuver for Adults and Children Older Than 1 Year

Topic Overview

A person who is choking cannot talk, cough, or breathe, and may turn gray or blue. The Heimlich maneuver can help get the food or object out. WARNING: Do not try the Heimlich maneuver unless you are sure the person is choking.

If the person can cough or make sounds, let him or her cough to try to get the object out. If you are worried about the person's breathing, call 911.

If the person can't breathe, cough, or make sounds, then:

  • Stand or kneel behind the person and wrap your arms around his or her waist. If the person is standing, place one of your legs between his or her legs so you can support the person if he or she faints.
  • Make a fist with one hand. Place the thumb side of your fist against the person's belly, just above the belly button but well below the breastbone. See picture A.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand. Give a quick upward thrust into the belly. This may cause the object to pop out. You may need to use more force for a large person and less for a child or small adult. See picture B.
  • Repeat thrusts until the object pops out or the person faints.
Picture of choking rescue procedure (Heimlich maneuver) fist position

Illustration copyright 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

Picture A

Picture of choking rescue procedure (Heimlich maneuver)

Picture B

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised March 20, 2012

Last Revised: March 20, 2012

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