How to easily give yourself the Heimlich maneuver and possibly save your life

Choking is a serious emergency that often leads to death, In fact, recent figures show that about 200 people in the U.K. die each year due to choking. People who are choking require the Heimlich maneuver to remove the obstruction in their throats. However, help may not always be readily available. In the event of choking, people may perform the procedure on themselves by using a chair or their own arm, health experts say.

As part of research, health experts at The Royal Brompton Hospital in London swallowed two special catheters to evaluate the effectiveness of both self-performed and the standard Heimlich maneuver. The self-performed procedures used either a chair or the participants’ own arms. The researchers confirm that both self-performed methods were just as effective as standard clinical procedures in relieving choking. The study also showed that self-performed methods are safe even for pregnant women.

“People need to know what to do if they are with someone who is choking or what to do if they are choking themselves. Choking can be a cause of sudden death in a perfectly healthy person. There may be only a few minutes to save a life. It is important to raise awareness of what to do if you are with someone who is choking and especially if you are by yourself and choking. We would like to see the self-administered technique taught on first aid courses and in schools. Posters in every restaurant and training for restaurant staff could help save lives,” said study author Dr. Nick Hopkinson in an article in

The findings appear in the journal Thorax.

How to do the Heimlich maneuver using a chair

At the event of choking, a chair is easily the most convenient tool to perform Heimlich maneuver. Here are a few steps in doing it.

The very first step is to find a chair where the procedure will be performed.

Next, line the abdomen against the flat back of the chair. Doing so will help you to effectively target the body’s airways. It is also important to note that using the corners of a chair will result in unwanted injuries. This is why using the flat back of a chair is always the ideal solution.

Once the abdomen is lined, use both hands to grip the chair. Push the abdomen against it to exert enough pressure in order to dislodge the obstruction from the throat.

How to do the Heimlich maneuver using your hands

When choking occurs and help is not readily available, people may perform Heimlich maneuver using their own hands, says First Aid for Life founder Emma Hammett.

According to Hammett, the first thing that people need to do is to remain calm. Panic may cause the throat the constrict further, which in turn could make dislodging more challenging.

If possible, people should try coughing to clear the throat. If the throat is partially blocked, the object should be easily dislodged. Hammett suggests that people should lean forward while coughing to let gravity help in the process. However, if complete blockage occurred, it is ideal to seek immediate help if possible. According to Hammett, most choking incidents happen in restaurants, and most people run for the bathroom out of embarrassment.

The expert discourages using the fingers as this method may lodge the object further into the windpipe, which worsens the choking.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver, first you must put a bunched fist between the belly button and the rib cage. Then use the other hand to push the bunched fist in an inward and upward angle. Push the bunched fist in a J-shaped motion to effectively dislodge the obstruction, Hammett says.

The expert stresses that prevention is still better than cure, and suggests that people should refrain from talking and laughing while eating to avoid choking.

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