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Be Prepared: What to do in a Choking Emergency

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Choking on a small object- whether it is food, a small toy, or anything else- is a problem that can affect any home. Small children are particularly at risk for choking. This is why it is important to be prepared for a choking emergency. Here are steps you can take to deal with an emergency if it happens to a friend or a family member:

Prevent Choking Before It Happens:

It’s not possible to completely eliminate the risk of choking, but you can lower it.

  • When eating- make sure you cut food into small pieces and chew thoroughly.
  • Serve children very small pieces of food. Make sure you cut their food into pieces even smaller than what you would serve to an adult. Make sure kids eat slowly and don’t talk while they are eating.
  • If you have young children in your home, keep small objects contained and out of reach of those children.

If Someone Does Choke, Know What to Do:

If someone begins choking due to an obstructed airway, you may need to utilize the Heimlich maneuver.

If you run into a situation that you cannot handle on your own, then it’s essential to contact an emergency service like 9-1-1 or other trauma services. Choking emergencies can get out of control very, very quickly and fast action on your part can save the life of a person who is choking. An emergency operator can direct you on how to help a person choking, or send you emergency help.

What Not to Do:

  1. Do not panic.
  2. Do not try to perform the Heimlich on an infant.
  3. Do not try to perform the Heimlich on someone unless they have an obstructed air pathway.

If you need trauma care, Indiana University Health operates some of the top trauma centers in the state of Indiana. 

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