How To Perform the Heimlich Maneuver

You never know when you might be around someone who is choking. Learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver so that you can step in and help during a choking emergency.

Step 1

Reassure the victim. When choking, a person will start to panic. If you can help, get there right away and reassure the victim that you know the Heimlich maneuver and you are going to help. Tell the victim that you need him to calm down and do exactly what you say. Then get to work quickly!

Step 2

Get the victim to stand. To successfully perform the Heimlich maneuver, ask the choking victim to stand. You may have to help support the victim if he or she is unstable or panicking.

Step 3

Stand behind the victim. The next step in the Heimlich maneuver requires you to position yourself correctly. Stand behind the choking victim.

Step 4

Hug the victim. Once you are standing behind the choking victim, you need to place your hands around the victim's chest, just above his waist. Make sure that the victim's arms are up and away from yours. You need to be able to get a full grip on the victim's torso.

Step 5

Make a fist. In a back-hugging position, place your hand directly in the middle of the victim's chest in the shape of a fist. Make sure that your thumb is not concealed in your fist, but is instead facing upward. Place your fist right above the victim's belly button. (It may be necessary to remove the victim's bulky clothing to find the correct fist placement. Now is not the time to be modest so do what you need to to help the victim from choking to death.)

Step 6

Grab your fist. Using your free hand, grab your fist with your other hand to create a perfect circle around the victim. Don't let go of your fist!

Step 7

Start thrusting. With your arms held tightly and the one still making a fist, squeeze in and upward at the same time. These thrusts need to be very strong and directed right into the victim's abdomen. Do this strong fisted thrust 5 times, making each squeeze strong enough to try to dislodge whatever it is that's blocking the victim's airways. A strong thrust will also push air out of the victim's airways, creating a coughing reflex. You will need to go deep to do this, and it will probably hurt the victim. Don't worry about that! He will be forever grateful for your forceful ways once he can breathe again. Repeat this thrust until the item is expelled.

It's important to keep a good hold of the victim during the entire Heimlich maneuver, as he may lose consciousness. If you are successful in helping the choking victim, sit him down afterwards and don't leave his side until his breathing returns to normal.


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