Summer is here. Cookouts with family and friends are part of the summer festivities that carry us from June through August. We plan every detail of these events from food to activities right down to the quaint evening gatherings around the fire pit complete with marshmallow roasting. What we don’t plan for is the unexpected. What happens when Uncle Ned suddenly chokes on the steak he is gnawing on because cousin Joe cracked a joke? We hope this never happens but choking was the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in 2011. Would you or anyone at your gathering know what to do in the event of such an emergency? We want you to have a great summer free of tragic events. Here is what you should do if you notice someone who is choking.
If the person is not coughing or able to speak, call 911 immediately and proceed to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
- Ask the choking victim to stand, if they are sitting.
- Place yourself slightly behind the victim and place your arms around his or her waist.
- Make a fist with one hand placing your thumb towards the victim, just above his or her navel.
- Grab your fist with your other hand and deliver five upward thrusts into the victim’s abdomen.
- Your thrusts may move air out of the victim’s lungs and create an artificial cough.
- Repeat the Heimlich maneuver until the food is dislodged.
It’s important to call for emergency assistance before performing the Heimlich maneuver anytime someone is choking. Even if you are successful in dislodging the obstruction, the victim should still be checked out by medical personnel. Make sure to share or post these steps so that all guests will know what to do in the event of an emergency.