If you're present when someone is choking, you need to act fast before he or she loses consciousness. There are only a few precious minutes from the time someone starts choking in which to save his or her life. Educate yourself on how to treat a conscious choking victim so that you'll always be prepared to help a choking victim in an emergency.
Look for choking signs. If someone is choking, there are a few ways to tell. First of all, the person will probably be holding her throat with both of her hands. This indicates that there is likely a blockage of some kind in her throat, stopping her from breathing. She could be making a high-pitched wheezing noise as she is gasping for air. A conscious choking victim definitely won't be able to talk or breathe properly, and coughing will also be impossible.
Get the choking victim to stand up. Once you have determined that you are, in fact, dealing with a conscious choking victim, treat the situation as an emergency and act quickly. Get someone else to call for professional help (paramedics). In the mean time, begin treating the choking victim yourself. Have her stand up. And then position yourself directly behind her. (You are preparing to do the Heimlich Maneuver to dislodge the piece of food).
Get your hands into position. When you're standing behind the choking victim, bring your arms around to her front. Make a fist with one of your hands and then grab the wrist of that hand with your other hand.
Start to thrust upward. With the hugging/clutching hold on the choking victim, you will now try to dislodge the piece of food that is stuck in her throat. Place your fist just below her rib cage, so that the thumb of your hand that is in a fist is sitting nearly in her belly button. Then, thrust your fist inwards and up into the choking victim's chest. This should be a quick, deliberate motion. Don't worry about hurting the victim or bruising her ribs. She'll just be thankful that she'll be able to breathe again, and she'll recover from what little bruising your thrusting does cause.
Continue to make these thrusting movements quickly, in rapid succession, for as long as it takes. Don't stop until the food falls out of the victim's mouth and you hear her gasp for breath. Once this happens, direct the choking victim to sit or lie down in a comfortable position until a medical professional can assess her and treat her if necessary.
(NOTE: These instructions are not meant to treat a choking baby. Babies have much more tender ribs and require a different approach when choking. Lay the baby on her belly on your hand, and face her head slightly downwards. Then, using the palm of your hand, deliberately hit her back, directly opposite to where her esophagus is. Push your hand slightly upward as you hit her back. Continue to do this until the food is dislodged.)
Proper training is recommended for anyone who may need to treat a conscious choking baby, child, or adult.