Published: 2017-12-13T13:56:00Z

One of the most successful skills that a first aider can learn is the treatment of choking.  Things such as food, sweets, or small objects can easily become lodged in the airway if they are accidentally 'breathed in' rather than swallowed. Recognising that someone is choking it essential to a successful outcome.


  • Often happens while eating of drinking
  • Ask the question: 'are you choking?'

Treatment of choking - adult or child (over 1 year)

1. Instruct the casualty to cough

Instruct the casualty to cough.  If the choking is only mild, this will clear the obstruction and they should be able to speak to you.

If the cough becomes ineffective:

2. Back blows

  • Shout for help, but do not leave the casualty.
  • Lean the casualty well forwards.
  • Give up to 5 back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.  The aim is to relieve the choking with each blow rather than to give all 5.

If the obstruction is still not clear:

3. Abdominal thrusts

  • Stand behind the casualty. Place both your arms around them.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place it just above the belly button, below the ribs.
  • Grasp this fist with your other hand, then pull sharply inwards and upwards. Do this up to 5 times. The aim is to relieve the choking with each thrust rather than to give all five.

If the obstruction is still not cleared:

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3

  • Keep repeating steps 2 and 3.
  • If the treatment seems ineffective, shout for help. Ask someone to call 999 but do not interrupt the treatment whilst the casualty is still conscious.

If the casualty become unconscious - start CPR

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