How to Save Yourself If You’re Alone and Choking

Emergencies can strike at any time, but when you’re home alone without a way to get help, fear can set in. Out of the many scenarios that fit this description, choking may not have crossed your mind.

We know there are instructions for how to do the Heimlich maneuver on others and yourself, and you can watch tutorials for saving a baby from choking. But when your survival instincts kick in, would you know what to do?

Paramedic and firefighter Jeff Rehman shared a video on YouTube that teaches a technique to save yourself from choking. Inspired by his time as a boxer, the move involves doing a belly flop on a flat surface to dislodge the food (or object) from the windpipe.

The first step is to get into a kneeling position and place your hands in front of you as if you’re doing planks. Spread your arms out in front of you, bracing your body for a drop. Rehman notes that obviously pregnant women should not attempt to use this method, nor is it 100% foolproof.

Click on the video to see the final step, and watch it a few more times to get it down. If you’re wondering why this works, it all has to do with the air your body is storing.

When you breathe, your lungs keep a certain amount of air stored for a few minutes. When you apply a sudden burst of pressure to your abdominal/diaphragm region, the air is forced upwards through the airway, pushing the stuck object out.

Rehman’s method is great when you’re concerned about not being able to apply enough pressure with your fist for the Heimlich. Do not be afraid to make more than one attempt if the object doesn’t pop out on the first try.

You can never be too prepared when it comes to a scary situation like this, and physicians have a few more pointers to help you out. Rule one is to stay calm. Since your lungs have a small reserve of air, you need to work calmly but fast. While your intuition may tell you to drink something, avoid doing that as it can make things worse.

Do follow your gut and try to cough up what’s stuck if you’re able, as this may relieve your discomfort and force the food to come up. Sometimes, a few coughs is all it takes.

Experts suggest being checked out by a medical professional following a choking incident to make sure there is no damage to the organs or throat region. They’ll also check to make sure that there is nothing left in the throat. That may mean a call to 911 or visit to a hospital.

Click on this video again to learn this safety vet’s method to rescue yourself, and be careful while chewing! The best remedy is prevention.

Have you ever had to rescue yourself from a choking episode? How did you handle it? Will you take the time to learn or practice this technique?


Mayo Clinic