Monday, February 4, 2013

I Nearly Choked To Death

If you saw someone choking in a restaurant, would you know what to do? 

Over the weekend, the girlfriend and I were sitting down for a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel. I was particularly hungry and ended up ordering the Big Country Breakfast which comes with steak, eggs, hash brown casserole, biscuits and gravy, grits and cinnamon apples. It felt like I hadn't eaten in days, so I was really excited to take that first bite of my (rather too rare) steak. My excitement soon turned to fear as that very first bite of steak got lodged in my throat.

It never ceases to amaze me at how poorly designed the human body really is. What idiot would make an animal that ingests food via the same orifice which it uses to breathe? I briefly pondered my possible death being ruled a design flaw as I worked to free the steak from my airway. My attempts were unsuccessful and I looked at my girlfriend with abject terror as I realized that I simply did not know what to do. As I rose to my feet in order to try to summon help, my throat muscles expelled the steak and I spit it out onto the table. Air! Fresh air! My breathing had only been cut off for a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

After things had settled down and I had stopped contemplating what it would have been like to die on the floor of a Cracker Barrel, I considered how I had no clue what to do when you're choking. Had I needed to get help from someone, how many people in the packed restaurant would have known what to do? If I had seen someone choking, what should I have done? My first inclination was to do the Heimlich, but, apparently that's not the "go-to" resolution that it once was.

What To Do When Someone Is Choking


1. Confirm That They Are Choking

It sounds pretty dumb, but you should make sure that the person in question is indeed choking and not having a heart attack or an allergic reaction. Personally, I'd also check to see what they were eating in order to ensure that I wouldn't order that very same thing myself.

2. Back Blows

Using the heel of your hand, smack the victim on the back up to five times between the shoulder blades.

3. Abdominal Thusts

  • Standing behind the victim, wrap your arms around his/her waist.
  • Clench your first and place it just above the victims’s navel. 
  • Grab your fist with your other hand.
  • Quickly pull inward and upward.


4. Repetition

If choking continues, repeat the cycle. Five back blows, then five abdominal thrusts until the object is coughed up.

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