This is second of two parts. For the first part, our expert tackled how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). We highly recommend training to perform these first aid techniques.
Choking is an emergency situation that requires immediate first aid. There are two kinds of choking, says Edward Cuenca, a first-aid instructor at the American Safety and Health Institute, during our "Smart Parenting Baby Shower," co-presented with Belo Baby at Crowne Plaza Galleria.
First is partial obstruction where the person is still able to speak, cough, and breathe slowly. The second is complete airway obstruction where the person is unable to cough, speak, and breathe, which can lead to unconsciousness. Other signs of choking include clenching of the throat, inability to make a sound, gasping or having difficulty breathing, skin or lips turning into a bluish color.
Here is what you need to do when you suspect that a person is choking.
1. Ask the person: "Are you choking?" We know it sounds silly to do so, but the person's answer will help you figure out what first aid to provide.
2. Then ask, "Can you cough?" If he responds yes (whether verbally or nodding his head up and down), let him cough until the blockage comes out. "'Pag kaya niyang umubo, hayaan mo lang siya umubo ng umubo. Basta nandoon ka lang to comfort him or her," Cuenca advises. You can also pat the person's back to help free up his airway.
3. Do the Heimlich maneuver if the individual cannot cough properly. Position yourself behind the person, and wrap your arms around his abdomen. If you're a right-handed person, place the ring finger of your left hand on the person's navel. On top of your hand placement, make a fist with your thumb against the person's abdomen and support if with your other hand. Then, thrust with an inward-upward motion, like a letter J. Do this until the blockage in his airways comes out. Remember, don't stand in front of the person while you're doing the Heimlich maneuver.
If you're alone and choking, you can do the Heimlich maneuver on yourself. Cuenca advises putting your back against the wall "para may katulong kayo sa pressure sa wall."
Here are some modifications to Heimlich maneuver when it's performed on pregnant women or babies:
For pregnant women The Heimlich maneuver performed on pregnant women is only slightly different. Instead of thrusting via an inward-upward above the navel, wrap your arms through her underarm and under her breast. Make a fist with your thumb at the center of her chest, and support it with your other hand as you push in an inward motion only until the blockage comes out. For babies Performing the Heimlich on babies is more complicated. (That's why we should always keep any small object that can fit into a baby's mouth out of reach.) Place the baby on his tummy on your forearm with his head positioned lower than his body and give five back blows. Then, turn the baby around on his back with his body inclined in such a way that his head is lower than his body and give five chest compressions using only two fingers. (Click here and here to read about how to give CPR to babies). Stop only when the airway obstruction is out.
For people who are unconscious Do the steps for CPR for babies (see links above), but check the individual's mouth if you can already reach and take out the blockage. "Baka pwede ninyo nang makuha, but don't do blind sweeps, ha. 'Wag ninyong dudukutin sa bibig nang hindi niyo nakikita yung obstruction kasi baka madiinan ninyo at mailubog niyo pa lalo," Cuenca stresses.