All Choked Up on Valentine’s Day

My beautiful mother-in-law’s birthday is coming, and I had a decision to make. I can either write about the only accident I’ve ever heard of her having, or I can write about the lovey-dovey holiday that only about half the human population actually celebrates. To avoid the risk of her retaliation, I’m going to talk about Valentine’s Day.

I have the worst sweet tooth and am not afraid to admit that I like those little candy conversation hearts that come to stores every year for Valentine’s Day. However, these bite-sized sweets along with many other candies present a choking hazard. Let’s say your sweetheart stuffed a few too many candies in their mouth.  

First off, the universal sign of choking is hands around the throat; not to be confused with strangling: hands on someone else’s throat. Second, call for an ambulance.

If the victim is gasping or coughing, they’re still breathing. Get them to keep coughing until the obstruction is gone. However, if the person cannot cough, breathe, or make any noises at all, the item is blocking their whole airway and they should be offered.

Before you jump into the Heimlich manoeuvre, lean the person as far forward as possible and slap them on the back.  Not just slapping, “back blows” require giving firm blows with the heel of the hand to the patient’s back between the shoulder blades. For a baby, don’t hit has hard, obviously, and lay them across your lap with their head resting lower than the rest of their body.

If that doesn’t work, then perform chest thrusts (not the Heimlich/abdomen thrusts). From behind, ball your fist against the middle of their breastbone with your thumb against them. Put your other hand over it and pull up and in 5 times. For babies, place the child face up on a hard surface and press firmly just below the nipple line.

If that fails, call emergency services if you haven’t already.

I hope you don’t have to deal with a choking person this Valentine’s Day, but now you know. Be safe.

Happy almost birthday, Yvonne.

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