Heimlich maneuver for an adult or child older than age 1

A person who is choking cannot talk, cough, or breathe, and may turn blue or dusky. The Heimlich maneuver can help dislodge the food or object.

WARNING: Do not begin the choking rescue procedure unless you are certain that the person is choking.

  • Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around his or her waist. If the person is standing, place one of your feet between his or her legs so you can support the person's body if he or she loses consciousness.
  • Make a fist with one hand. Place the thumb side of your fist against the person's abdomen, just above the navel but well below the sternum. See picture A below.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand. Give a quick upward thrust into the abdomen. This may cause the object to pop out. Use less force for a child. See picture B below.
  • Repeat thrusts until the object pops out or the person loses consciousness.
Picture of choking rescue procedure (Heimlich maneuver) fist position

Medical Illustration Copyright © 2002 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com

Picture A

Picture of the choking rescue procedure (Heimlich maneuver) with an adult

Picture B

Last Updated: May 1, 2008

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine

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