Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Carson. Carson Wonders, “Heimlich Maneuver” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Carson!

Have you ever been so hungry that you feel like you could eat a horse? Unleashed on an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, you attack with gusto! Breadsticks, pizza, more breadsticks…you start stuffing your face like there’s no tomorrow.

Unfortunately, eating very fast can be dangerous. Sometimes when people do so, they forget to chew well. This can lead to the very scary experience of choking on food. 

When people choke on food, they often grasp their throats. That’s because food is stuck there, preventing them from breathing. During very serious choking incidents, they may even start to turn blue or lose consciousness. 

If you’re ever around a person who’s choking on food or other objects, find an adult immediately. They may be able to help by using a special technique designed to clear the air passage. It’s called the Heimlich Maneuver. Read on to learn more!

Although choking has occurred since the beginning of time, the abdominal thrust technique for first aid has only been around since 1974. That’s when Dr. Henry Heimlich introduced his method for removing food stuck in the airway. It involves performing several quick abdominal thrusts to force air upward to push the food back out through the mouth.

Choking occurs when food goes down your windpipe (trachea) instead of your esophagus (the tube that goes from your throat to your stomach). This can happen when the epiglottis (a small piece of cartilage in the back of the throat) fails to close in time. This stops it from sealing off your trachea when you’re swallowing food or liquid.

Usually, when this happens, your body forces you to cough. Coughing uses the air in the lungs to force the food or liquid out of the trachea. When something completely blocks the trachea, though, air can’t get into or out of the lungs. That’s what we call choking.

When people choke, they often panic. They may gesture wildly and grab at their throat. They may also begin to turn blue as their bodies are deprived of oxygen they need to live. If this goes on long enough, they may become unconscious from lack of oxygen.

If you notice someone choking, it’s important to get help for them as quickly as possible. The Heimlich Maneuver uses the oxygen trapped in a person’s lungs to dislodge whatever is blocking the airway. This is accomplished by using abdominal thrusts. They force the air in a person’s lungs back up the trachea. This dislodges the blockage.

The Heimlich Maneuver is usually done by one person on another. But you can perform it on yourself. How can this be done? One way is to bend over a chair and use the back of the chair to force the air out of your lungs.

If you’d like to learn how to do the Heimlich Maneuver, you should learn from a trained professional. Perhaps you or your class or your entire family could take a first aid class! These are often offered by organizations such as the Red Cross.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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