How to Tell When Someone is Choking

How to Tell When Someone is Choking
How to Tell When Someone is Choking

What is the universal distress signal for choking?

• Blue tongue out
• Finger pointing to mouth
• Frantic arm waving
• Both hands to throat

Answer: Both Hands to Throat

The universal distress signal for choking is grabbing the throat with one or both hands.

A person who is choking may have a panicked appearance frantically waving his or her arms or grabbing their throat with their hands. Some other signs of choking may be a person who is coughing, unable to speak, gagging, struggling to breathe, or having a bluish colored lips or skin. If the person doesn’t receive help right away, it could lead to loss of consciousness and eventually death.


How to Help Someone Who is Choking
If the choking victim is speaking, able to breathe or cough, DO NOT interfere. In most cases, a forceful cough can dislodge whatever is blocking the airway.

Ask the person, “Are You Choking?” If they nod, “Yes” or is giving the Universal Choking Signal (both hands to throat), it means assistance is needed.

The Heimlich Maneuver is a series of abdominal thrusts. Position yourself behind the choking victim and reach around the person’s waist. Make a fist and position it just above the naval. Grasp your fist with the other hand and deliver six to ten inward and upward thrusts. If the person is obese or pregnant, use chest thrusts instead. Continue this cycle until the blocked airway is open.

The Choking Victim is Unconscious. Now What?
Place the victim on their back and call 9-1-1 or have someone do it immediately. Conduct a finger swipe to the mouth in an attempt to remove any obstructions from their mouth. Look for signs of breathing by looking for a rise and fall to the chest. If the person is not breathing, perform rescue breathing techniques.


If this doesn’t work, start the Heimlich Maneuver by placing kneeling next to the person and placing the heel of your hand in the abdominal area. Grasp your hand with the other and give inward and upward thrusts, six to ten times.

If you see someone grabbing their throat with both hands, there’s a good chance they may need assistance. Knowing these simple steps could help save someone’s life.

~To Your Survival!

How to Help a Choking Child or Adult (Everyone Must Know!)