- What to do when someone is choking
- How to recognise the signs of choking
- What should your first response be?
- How to care for an adult or child (over the age of 1) who is choking
- How to care for an infant (baby) who is choking
- How to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre on yourself
- While you wait for emergency services…
- Choking risk factors to take into consideration
- Safety considerations for administering first aid
How to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre on yourself
You may find yourself choking while you're alone. For anyone, this is a frightening experience.
How can you help yourself in this life-threatening situation?
The first thing to be mindful of is not to panic. Even though you are alone, dial emergency personnel immediately. You should not try and call or message a loved one first. Don’t worry if you can already anticipate not being in a state to communicate with an EMS dispatcher. You may very well be unable to speak at all, but designated dispatchers are capable of tracing an open line (a landline or GPS-enabled mobile phone) and arranging assistance immediately. Dispatchers are generally trained to recognise these open lines as a potential emergency and should react accordingly. Don’t disconnect the call. Emergency professionals will be dispatched to find your location and get to you as quickly as possible in order to assist with dislodging the obstruction or providing life support should you lose consciousness by the time they arrive.
You will then need to administer abdominal thrusts / compressions on yourself to try and dislodge the obstruction in your airway as quickly as possible. Find a chair which you can lean over the back of. A railing or other hard object can also work. Try not to select a hard object that has a sharp edge or corner that could result in unnecessary injury.
As you lean, press yourself (abdomen or torso) forcefully against the back of the chair or other hard object. Do this at least 5 to 10 times (as would be done by another administering the Heimlich Manoeuvre) to try and expel the obstruction.
Alternatively, you can also perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre on yourself without the use of a chair or railing etc. Find your navel with a finger and ball a hand up into a fist. Cover your fist with your other hand and pull forcefully inwards and upwards.
If you are pregnant or very overweight, you may need to opt for chest thrusts / compressions instead to help dislodge the obstruction. Whichever method of artificial cough you attempt, continue until you are able to expel the foreign object yourself or EMS professionals arrive to take over with providing advanced life support.
You will need to go directly to a medical facility once the obstruction has been expelled for a full physical evaluation. If you have lost consciousness, EMS professionals will provide life support and transport you to a medical facility immediately for further advanced care.