We tell kids not to run with food in their mouths, yet we seem to forget that advice as adults. Most of us multitask while we eat — whether it’s mindlessly snacking while binging our favorite show or grabbing a quick bite on the go. But the moment our food goes down the wrong pipe, we ask ourselves in a panic, “Do I know how to do Heimlich on myself?”
The Heimlich maneuver is a life-saving technique used to help remove food or a foreign object that is obstructing a person’s upper airway and preventing them from breathing normally. And while we tend to think about the Heimlich as something we do for others who are choking, we rarely consider whether we know how to do the Heimlich on ourselves.
If you find yourself Googling “how to do Heimlich on myself” in fear of choking on food when you’re alone, read on to learn how to identify choking and effectively perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself.
How to Identify Choking
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 3,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2020 were due to choking. This is a small fraction of the tens of thousands of people who require first aid for some degree of choking each year but are successful in restoring normal respiration.
The concept of choking typically conjures images of a person gasping for air. While a person may experience trouble breathing due to an obstruction in their airway, this example is often mischaracterized as choking, which requires the Heimlich maneuver. So, before I can learn how to do Heimlich on myself, I need to be able to identify when it should be used.
When to Use the Heimlich
The Heimlich maneuver should be reserved for life-threatening events to avoid causing unintentional injury to the victim. When a person is completely unable to breathe or speak but still conscious, use the Heimlich maneuver.
If, on the other hand, a person is still able to wheeze or cough, that means there’s still partial airflow occurring. In this case, encouraging him or her to cough is the best course of action. Often, a hard cough can help dislodge the foreign object and allow a person to breathe freely.
If you’re alone, choking, and completely unable to breathe, it’s important that you move quickly to self-administer the Heimlich. You can lose consciousness in as little as one minute. Timely first aid is essential, and you don’t want to be panic-searching “how to do Heimlich on myself” in an emergency, so it’s wise to brush up on the steps sooner than later.
How to Do Heimlich on Myself in 3 Steps
Administering the Heimlich on yourself is similar to administering it on another person. Here’s how to do it in three steps:
- Make a fist, and place your thumb next to your abdomen, between your belly button and rib cage.
- Grasp your fist with your other hand firmly, and make quick upward thrusts while pulling into your abdomen. This helps to leverage the air contained in your lungs to force the object out.
- Repeat this process several times if needed to dislodge the object.
If you feel you’re unable to effectively perform this action, you can lean yourself over the back of a sturdy chair or railing, pressing into your abdomen in the same area. You will use your body weight to force the chair upward in hopes of dislodging the object.
After performing the Heimlich to restore breathing, you should always be seen by a doctor to make sure there are no further complications. Sometimes an underlying medical condition can increase the risk factors for choking and can be addressed by a physician.
Learning How to Do Heimlich on Myself
Few things can grab your attention quite as quickly as feeling something going down the wrong pipe. Choking is a serious and immediately life-threatening event. All of these risks and feelings of panic are compounded when you’re alone, which makes being prepared even more valuable.
Learning to do the Heimlich before you’re in an emergency is a much better place to be than Googling “how to do Heimlich on myself” as you’re struggling to breathe. Knowing how to perform the Heimlich is a great foundation, but quality CPR classes and first aid training can prepare you to confidently step in and help save a life in any emergency.
Contact us today to learn more about how ProTrainings can help you make getting CPR and first-aid certified easier and more efficient.