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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini



Phone 111 immediately if the person who is choking can't breathe, talk, or cough, or if they become unconscious.

If they stop breathing, start CPR for children and adults or for babies.

Choking happens when something – often food – becomes stuck in a person's windpipe. This makes it difficult, or impossible, to breathe air in.

How do I know if someone is choking?

Someone who is choking will have difficulty breathing and talking. They may be using hand signals to point to their throat. Their skin may be pale or turning blue. They will be showing distress.

How can I help someone who is choking?

If coughing or removing the object doesn't work:

If back blows don't work

Continue giving back blows and chest thrusts until either the object has come out or an ambulance arrives. If they stop breathing start CPR for children and adults or for babies.

How to do chest thrusts

Stand behind the person, wrapping your arm around their chest. Make a fist with one hand.

Place your fist with the thumb side against their breastbone.

Grasp your fist with your other hand and give a quick inwards thrust.

Video demonstration

This video shows you what to do if a baby is choking.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created December 2016.


Page reference: 284743

Review key: HIFAD-141030