Choking Prevention and Rescue Tips

December 19, 2023
Choking prevention and rescue tips safety training image

According to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional deaths. Since it’s the holiday season and many are celebrating with all sorts of foods, it’s important to keep choking prevention and rescue tips in mind.

If a person is coughing forcefully, encourage continued coughing to clear the object. A person who can't cough, speak, or breathe, however, needs immediate help. Ask if they are choking and let them know you will use abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver, to prevent suffocation. The procedure is not recommended for children younger than 1.

  • Stand behind the victim with one leg forward between the victim's legs
  • For a child, move down to their level and keep your head to one side
  • Reach around the abdomen and locate the navel
  • Place the thumb side of your fist against the abdomen just above the navel
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and thrust inward and upward into the victim's abdomen with quick jerks
  • For a responsive pregnant victim, or any victim you cannot get your arms around or for whom abdominal thrusts are not effective, give chest thrusts from behind; put your hands at the base of the breastbone, just above the joining of the lowest ribs. Press hard into the chest with a quick thrust. Avoid squeezing the ribs with your arms
  • Continue thrusts until the victim expels the object or becomes unresponsive
  • Even after choking stops, seek medical attention

If the adult victim becomes unresponsive, lower the person to the ground, expose the chest and start CPR:

  • Look inside the mouth and remove any objects
  • Tilt the head and lift the chin to open the airway
  • Give two rescue breaths
  • Compress the chest about 2 inches deep, 30 times, at a rate of at least 100 per minute while counting aloud
  • Continue the cycle of two breaths and 30 compressions until the victim wakes up, an AED is brought to the scene or professional help arrives

Choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for infants, who require a different rescue procedure than adults. Clear the airway, and do the following only if the infant cannot cry, cough, or breathe:

    Support the infant face down by holding the head in one hand with the torso on your forearm against your thigh
  • Give up to five back slaps between the shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand
  • If the object is not expelled, roll the infant face up, supporting the back of the infant's head with your hand
  • Place two fingers on the breastbone just below the nipple line
  • Give five chest thrusts about one per second about 1 ½ inches deep
  • Continue cycles of five back slaps and five chest thrusts until the object is expelled or the infant becomes unresponsive
  • If the infant becomes unresponsive or is found unresponsive, begin CPR

To learn more, visit:

Credit: The National Safety Council

HazTek Inc. is a leading provider of comprehensive safety management services designed to protect workers by enhancing workplace safety. We offer over 80 services and provide professional, classroom-based training on more than 75 different topics — including CPR and AED training. We can also provide customized training based on your policies and procedures. To learn how HazTek can help, please contact us at: 888-842-9835 or or go to

Learn more about HazTek Safety & OSHA Training.