If you are at a restaurant, having a very convivial time with a bunch of friends then start choking on a food item do you:

  1. Stand up (on your chair if necessary) and gesticulate wildly to draw attention to your plight
  2. Nudge your neighbour and explain your situation whilst emphasising with gestures the lack of need to worry anyone else
  3. Try and cough it out discreetly into your napkin
  4. Sneak off to the toilets to attempt removal without disturbing your friends and their jollity

If you answered ‘1’ you are probably from a more outgoing area of the world.

If you answered ‘3’ or ‘4’ then you are probably a Brit, born and bred.

Why is it that we can be choking to death yet not want to disturb our close friends? Worse than that, we can take ourselves off to the bathroom so that our attempted retching is not overheard. All this means that if we cannot remove the item ourselves and then drift into unconsciousness, whoever discovers us has less time available to carry out lifesaving actions such as back slaps and Abdominal Thrusts (the action formerly known as the Heimlich Manoeuvre).

I have been offering this situation up in my First Aid courses without any hard evidence but Nigel Farndale writing in today’s Times Newspaper has done just this.

Nigel Farndale - the Times
Nigel Farndale – the Times 1 August 2020

Please, if you are choking, stand up, wave your arms around, shake the person next to you or take yourself to someone nearby. You have only a few minutes before you slip into unconsciousness and a few more before it is unlikely that you will survive. That person could save your life.

If you don’t know what to do if someone chokes in front of you, there are plenty of guides online and you can, of course, attend one of our First Aid courses. Every single course that we run covers dealing with a choking person and you will get effective hands-on tuition.


Featured Image Credit:

Philwelch / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)