A piece of food going down the wrong way can have serious consequences, and removing the airway blockage is the first step to saving the victim’s life.

Clutching their throat, coughing, wheezing or gagging and making violent attempts to breathe are the first signs that someone is choking. The lack of oxygen will make the victims face, neck, lips, ears and fingernails turn blue and the casualty can become unconscious.

The following steps should be carried out to clear the airway:

·tAsk casualty to cough – to remove object

·tIf unsuccessful, call 000/112

·tBend casualty well forward and give up to five sharp blows between shoulder blades

·tIf still unsuccessful, give up to five chest thrusts, checking to see if the object is removed after each chest thrust.

·tIf unsuccessful, alternate between five back blows and five chest thrusts until medical aid arrives or blockage clears.

·tIf casualty becomes unconscious and displays no signs of life, begin CPR

For further details of what to do in a choking emergency, visit St John’s Ambulance.

Click here for our extensive PDF on how to save a life.