Caring for an Adult Who Is Choking

1.Verify that the person is choking by asking the person to speak to you.

  • If the person is able to speak to you or is coughing forcefully: Encourage the person to keep coughing, but be prepared to give first aid for choking if the person’s condition changes.
  • If the person is unable to speak to you or is coughing weakly:
    • Send someone to call (413) 542-2111 or 9-1-1 or the designated emergency number and to obtain an AED and first aid kit. Continue to step 2 after obtaining consent

2.Give 5 back blows.

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  • Position yourself to the side and slightly behind the person. Place one arm diagonally across the person’s chest (to provide support) and bend the person forward at the waist so that the person’s upper body is as close to parallel to the ground as possible.
  • Firmly strike the person between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand

3.Give 5 abdominal thrusts.

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  • Have the person stand up straight.
  • Stand behind the person with one foot in front of the other for balance and wrap your arms around the person’s waist.
  • Using two fingers of one hand, find the person’s navel.
  • With your other hand, make a fist and place the thumb side against the person’s stomach, right above your fingers.
  • Cover the fist with your other hand.
  • Pull inward and upward to give an abdominal thrust.

4. Continue giving sets of 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until:

  • The person can cough forcefully, speak, cry or breathe.
  • The person becomes unresponsive.


If the person becomes unresponsive, gently lower him or her to the floor and begin CPR if you are trained, starting with compressions. After each set of compressions and before attempting rescue breaths, open the person’s mouth, look for the object and remove it if seen. Never put your finger in the person’s mouth unless you actually see the object.

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