Adult/Child Choking

Topic Progress:

This lesson pertains to anyone choking who is over 1 year of age. If the child is under the age of 1, see our lesson on Infant Choking. If the person over the age of 1 is unconscious, you should begin to perform CPR.

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The signs of choking are fairly obvious. The person might be grabbing at the throat, gagging, coughing, or breathing heavily. The person might not be able to speak or make a sound. When in doubt, simply ask the person, “Are you choking?” If the victim is a young child that hasn’t yet learned how to speak, you’ll have to use your judgment to determine if the child is choking.


There are two methods of attempting to dislodge an item from the airway of an adult or a child who is choking. These methods are Back Blows and Abdominal Thrust. The Abdominal Thrust is what most people know as the Heimlich Maneuver.

Back Blows

Bend the person forward at the waist, Using the heel of one hand, give five sharp blows between the shoulder blades. This may help dislodge the object from the victim’s airway. If the object isn’t dislodged, perform abdominal thrusts.


Abdominal Thrust

Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around his or her waist.

Place the side of your thumb just above the person’s bellybutton and make a fist.

Wrap your other hand around your fist and press sharply into the victim’s abdomen.

Thrust upward and inward. This will force air from the lungs as if the person were coughing. This often helps dislodge an object.

Continue thrusts until the object is dislodges and coughed up. If the object isn’t dislodged, the person will pass out.

If the person becomes unconscious, begin CPR.


We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check our Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.

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