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Here are some recommendations from the American Red Cross and Dr. Curtis Batten, emergency room physician at Fremont Area Medical Center:

A person who is choking will instinctively grab at the throat. They may also panic, gasp for breath, turn blue or be unconscious. If the person can cough or speak, he or she is getting air and nothing should be done.

If the person is choking, guidelines recommend first delivering five back blows between the victim's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.

If unsuccessful, perform five abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver), and continue alternating between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the airway is cleared.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver:

1. Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around the waist, tipping the victim forward slightly.

2. Place one leg between theirs in order to support them in case they become unconscious.

3. Making a fist with one hand, position it just above the victim's belly button.

4. Grasp the fist with the other hand.

5. Pull your fist inward and upward into the abdomen with a quick thrust. Make sure only the fist is used and that there is no force against the ribs with your forearms.

Different techniques are used for choking infants, children and unconscious victims. Batten encourages hands-on training available at a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course, which will help you learn skills that could one day save a life.


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