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    "If you've been injured through no fault of your own you could be entitled to compensation. If you're unsure if you could claim, I recommend you call Accident Advice Helpline."

    Esther Rantzen

    What should you do if someone around you starts choking?


    Choking occurs when a person’s airways suddenly become partly or fully blocked, making breathing difficult or impossible. Here is how you can help if someone starts choking.

    First aid if someone starts choking mildly

    What to do if someone starts choking depends on how bad the choking is. In cases of mild choking, airways are usually only partly blocked. In such a case, the affected individual can typically breathe, cough, cry or speak and should be able to clear the blockage by coughing. It is therefore recommended to encourage adults or children over the age of 12 months (see how to help babies younger than 12 months here) to:

    • Keep on coughing to clear the blockage

    • Spit the object out (if it is in the mouth)

    It is important not to put your fingers into a choking person’s mouth, as they may otherwise accidentally bite you. If coughing does not dislodge the blockage, you may need to administer back blows. You can learn how to do this in our post ‘What is the procedure to help someone who is choking?‘.

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    Assisting a person who starts choking severely

    When a person is choking severely, they are usually unable to breathe, speak, cough or cry. Unless help is provided quickly, severe choking may lead to unconsciousness and eventually death. The first response to severe choking is to administer back blows. If this does not help, it may become necessary to perform abdominal thrusts, which are also often referred to as the Heimlich Manoeuvre (see how to perform this manoeuvre here). Abdominal thrusts can be repeated up to five times. If the blockage cannot be cleared, it is vital to dial 999 and request immediate assistance for a choking person.

    Important: It is imperative never to perform abdominal thrusts on children under the age of 12 months or pregnant women.

    When to get medical assistance

    As there is a risk of this life-saving treatment causing potentially serious injuries, it is necessary for the treated individual to be examined by an A&E doctor or their GP afterwards. Urgent medical assistance may also be required if the individual has a persistent cough following their choking episode or continues to feel like they have something stuck in the throat.

    Claiming for compensation

    Depending on what caused someone to choke, they could be entitled to personal injury compensation. If you choked on an unexpected object in food or drinks at a restaurant, for instance, give us, Accident Advice Helpline, a call on 0800 689 0500 (from a UK landline) or 0333 500 0993 (from your mobile) now to learn more.

    Date Published: April 18, 2017

    Author: Accident Advice

    Accident Advice Helpline (or AAH) is a trading style of Slater Gordon Solutions Legal Limited. Slater Gordon Solutions Legal Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with registration number 07931918, VAT 142 8192 16, registered office Dempster Building, Atlantic Way, Brunswick Business Park, Liverpool, L3 4UU and is an approved Alternative Business Structure authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

    Disclaimer: This website contains content contributed by third parties, therefore any opinions, comments or other information expressed on this site that do not relate to the business of AAHDL or its associated companies should be understood as neither being held or endorsed by this business.

    No-Win No-Fee: *Subject to insurance costs. Fee payable if case not pursued at client's request.