How To Perform Adult Choking First Aid: Essential Steps


Choking incidents in adults can be alarming and necessitate immediate action. Knowing how to perform effective first aid in such situations can truly be a life-saving skill.

Picture this: You’re enjoying a meal with friends or family when suddenly someone begins coughing uncontrollably, unable to breathe or speak. This moment can quickly turn into a crisis if swift action isn’t taken. That’s why understanding the essential steps of adult choking first aid Australia is crucial.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the vital steps required to assist someone experiencing choking. From assessing the situation to performing the Heimlich manoeuvre or abdominal thrusts correctly, we’ll cover it all.

Understanding Adult Choking

Choking occurs when an object becomes lodged in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air. This can lead to difficulty breathing, coughing weakly, or even a complete inability to speak. Adult choking is a serious matter as it can quickly escalate into a life-threatening emergency if not addressed promptly.

Being aware of the prevalence and potential severity of adult choking incidents highlights the importance of knowing how to respond.

Recognising Signs of Choking

Recognising the signs of choking is crucial for prompt action. Common signs include difficulty breathing, gasping for air, clutching the throat, coughing weakly, or making high-pitched sounds. In severe cases, the person may become cyanotic (turning blue) due to a lack of oxygen. It is important to be vigilant and quickly identify these signs in order to provide immediate assistance.

Step-by-Step Guide: Adult Choking First Aid

1. Assessing the Severity of the Choking Episode

The first step in adult choking first aid Australia is to assess the severity of the choking episode. Determine if the person’s airway is partially or completely blocked. A partially blocked airway allows for some air to pass through, while a completely blocked airway prevents any air from entering or leaving the lungs. Remain calm and quickly make a decision on the appropriate course of action based on the severity of the situation.

2. Encouraging Coughing

If the person is conscious and able to cough forcefully, encourage them to do so. Coughing is a natural reflex that can help dislodge the object causing the choking. Stand behind the person and provide support by placing your arms around their waist. Lean the person forward slightly and give firm but gentle blows to the back between the shoulder blades to help dislodge the object. Continue to encourage coughing as long as they are able to do so.

3. Performing Back Blows

If coughing is ineffective or the person is unable to cough, move on to performing back blows. Stand slightly to the side and slightly behind the person. Place one hand on their back for support and deliver firm blows with the heel of your other hand between the shoulder blades. Be careful not to strike the spine or lower back. Repeat this motion up to five times, checking after each blow to see if the obstruction has been dislodged.

4. Administering Abdominal Thrusts (Heimlich Manoeuvre)

If the obstruction persists, you may need to proceed to the abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich manoeuvre. Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around their waist. Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side against the middle of the person’s abdomen, slightly above the navel. Grasp your fist with your other hand and give quick upward thrusts into the abdomen, aiming to force out the object blocking the airway. Repeat this motion up to five times, checking after each thrust to see if the obstruction has been cleared.

It is important to note that pregnant women and obese individuals may require modifications to the abdominal thrust technique to avoid harm. For pregnant women, chest thrusts can be used instead of abdominal thrusts. For obese individuals, the thrusts should be directed more horizontally than vertically.

5. Calling Emergency Services

If the person continues to choke, loses consciousness, or the obstruction is not dislodged, it is crucial to call emergency services immediately. Provide them with clear and concise information about the situation, the person’s condition, and the location. Stay on the line with the operator and follow any instructions given until help arrives.

Choking First

Clearing Obstructed Airways: Unconscious Adults

If the person becomes unconscious while choking, it is important to check for signs of breathing or responsiveness. If they are not breathing or showing any signs of responsiveness, begin CPR immediately. Follow the guidelines for CPR provided by the American Heart Association or your local emergency response organisation. Continue CPR until professional help arrives or until the person starts breathing again independently.

Post-Choking Incident Care

After successfully clearing the airway, it is important to monitor the person for any complications or symptoms that may arise. Choking incidents can cause injuries to the throat or windpipe, so it is important to watch for signs of pain, difficulty swallowing, or breathing problems. If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention promptly.

Frequently Asked, Expertly Answered

  • Why is it crucial to know adult choking first aid?

Understanding the importance of adult choking first aid is fundamental. Choking can happen anywhere, anytime, and having the knowledge to respond swiftly can be the difference between life and death. Explore the reasons behind the significance of acquiring these life-saving skills.

  • What are the common signs of an adult choking emergency?

Recognising the signs of choking is the first step in providing aid. Learn about the typical symptoms that indicate someone is experiencing a choking incident, allowing you to respond promptly and effectively.

  • How do I assess the severity of an adult choking situation?

Properly assessing the severity of a choking incident is crucial for determining the appropriate course of action. Discover the key indicators that help you evaluate the urgency of the situation and respond with confidence.

  • Are there different techniques for adult choking first aid?

Explore the various techniques available for assisting an adult who is choking. From the Heimlich manoeuvre to abdominal thrusts, understanding these methods empowers you to choose the right approach based on the circumstances.

  • What should I do if the initial attempts are unsuccessful?

Despite our best efforts, sometimes the first attempt may not be successful. Learn about the steps to take if initial interventions fail, ensuring that you are well-prepared to persist in providing aid until professional help arrives.


In conclusion, knowing how to perform adult choking first aid Australia is essential in potentially saving a life. By understanding the signs of choking, assessing the severity of the situation, and following the step-by-step guide provided, you can confidently respond to an adult choking emergency.

Remember to stay calm, act quickly, and call emergency services if necessary. Share this information with others to increase awareness and preparedness, as being prepared can make all the difference in a choking emergency.

Always stay calm and act quickly, as your actions can potentially save a life.


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