CPR Refresher Step 5: How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver

Choking in an Adult and Child

Choking occurs when food or an object becomes lodged in the airway of the throat. The object prevents air from getting into the lungs. Chocking can occur in mild or severe manners. All types of choking are serious. If a person has severe choking, act fast. You must get the object out of the person so they can breathe.

If the person is conscious ask “Are you okay?” If they are choking, or unable to speak, you should immediately treat the person. You will need to give thrusts slightly above the belly button (often referred to the Heimlich maneuver). Each thrust is intended to push air from the lungs up and out of the throat effectively removing the object.

Adult and Child Heimlich Maneuver:

  1. Stand behind the choking person with one foot in-between the victim’s feet and your other foot behind you.
  2. Make a fist with one hand. Place the thumb side of your fist slightly above the person’s belly button.
  3. Grab the back of your fist with your free hand. Give inward and upward abdominal thrusts.

Continue giving thrusts until the object is forced out and the person can breathe, cough or talk or until the person stops responding (becomes unconscious).


Choking in an Infant

Many of the symptoms that indicate choking in an infant are the same as with adult and children. Recognize when an infant is choking from a mild airway block or severe airway block and act appropriately.

Infant Back Slaps & Chest Thrusts

Back slaps/chest thrusts shouldn’t be performed on an infant older than 1 year old. Give only back slaps and chest thrusts to an infant, pushing on the abdomen of the infant can cause serious harm.

  1. From a seated position (or kneeling on one knee with the other knee bent) place the infant facedown on top of your forearm, and rest your forearm on your thigh. The infants head should be lower than their chest. Use your hand to support the infants head.
  2. Give up to 5 back slaps between the infants shoulder blades using the heel of your free hand.
  3. If the object did not come out during the back slaps, turn the infant over onto it’s back supporting its head with your hand.
  4. With your free hand, give 5 chest thrusts using 2 fingers in the same location you would push during infant CPR.
  5. Repeat giving 5 backslaps and 5 chest thrusts until the infant can breathe, cough or cry (or until the infant becomes unresponsive).

Step 6: Identify and Treat Heat Exhaustion