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The universal sign for choking is someone pointing to his/her own mouth and trying to gasp for air. If you see someone choking, you need to react quickly with the Heimlich maneuver. The Heimlich maneuver was developed by a Cincinnati, Ohio, doctor who realized that by squeezing a person underneath the rib cage, you can dislodge an item stuck in a windpipe or throat. Here’s how to do it.

Taking a CPR class before you perform this manuever is highly suggested.

Have the person stand up as straight as possible and have him/her relax as much as possible.

Stand right behind the person. Put your arms around his/her waist. Make a fist with your hand, and place your thumb on the inside next to the person’s body. Find the person’s abdomen, which is directly below a person’s rib cage and in the center of the body. With your thumb next to his/her abdomen and holding your fist with your other hand, give the person a fast and forceful thrust upward.

Do the procedure until the item is dislodged from the person’s throat.

If the person isn’t breathing but has a pulse, you should lie the person on his/her back as flat as possible. Straddle the person between your legs with your knees on the floor. Hold your hands flat against the person’s abdomen, with one hand on top of the other. Thrust your hands into the person’s body as strongly as you can five times. Then check to see if the person is breathing yet.

If you are choking and there’s no one around to administer the Heimlich maneuver to you, try the Heimlich maneuver on yourself. If this doesn’t work, find the back of a chair and bend over it so the back of the chair is against your abdomen. Thrust the chair into your abdomen until you cough up the object blocking you from breathing.

If an infant is choking, lay him/her across your lap face down. Hit the infant on the upper back between his/her shoulder blades up to five times. If that doesn’t work, turn him/her around and with your second and third fingers lodged together side by side, push them into the infant’s chest up to five times. Alternate back hits and stomach thrusts until the object becomes dislodged.