Causes and Signals of Choking
Did you know that more than 3,000 people die each year as a result of choking? Would you be able to recognize if a family member or friend started to choke? Do you know what activities might lead to choking?
Here are some common causes of choking:
- Trying to swallow large pieces of poorly chewed food.
- Drinking alcohol before or during meals. Alcohol dulls the nerves that aid in swallowing.
- Wearing dentures. Dentures make it difficult to sense whether food is fully chewed before it is swallowed.
- Eating while talking excitedly or laughing.
- Eating too fast.
- Walking, playing, or running with food or objects in the mouth.
Follow these safety precautions to help prevent children from choking:
- Don't leave small objects, such as buttons, coins and beads within an infant's reach.
- Have children sit in a high chair or at a table while they eat.
- Do not let children eat too fast.
- Give infants soft food that they do not need to chew.
- Make sure that toys are too large to be swallowed.
- Do not give infants and young children foods like nuts, grapes, popcorn or raw vegetables.
- Make sure that toys have no small parts that could be pulled off.
- Cut foods a child can choke on easily such as hot dogs, into small pieces.
- Supervise children while they eat.
If you encounter a conscious, choking individual that is coughing, encourage continued coughing. If the victim is unable to cough, speak, or breathe, complete the following:
- Send someone to call 9-1-1
- Lean person forward and give 5 back blows with heel of your hand.
- Give 5 quick abdominal thrusts by placing the thumbside of your fist against the middleof the victim's abdomen, just above the navel. Grab your fist with the other hand.
- Repeat until the object the person is choking on is forced out and person breathes or coughs on his or her own.
If you want to learn more about the signals of choking or the care needed to give to a person who is choking, sign up for a First Aid and CPR course.