As I gathered with a group of friends this last week one of the group related a freaky tale of an incident with her child that required her to perform the Heimlich. Soon another friend chimed in with her own scary story of an incident with her infant. Eeeek! I have yet to experience this situation with my own loved ones, but have set out to educate myself on the necessary procedure for evacuating a foreign object from a Maxwell’s (or other) windpipe. From the Mayo Clinic information website:

If you or your child inhales a foreign object, see your doctor. If the inhaled object causes choking, the American Red Cross recommends the “five-and-five” approach to delivering first aid:

  • First, deliver five back blows between the victim’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  • Next, perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).
  • Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.

If you’re the only rescuer, perform back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911 or your local emergency number for help. If another person is available, have that person call for help while you perform first aid.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on someone else:

  • Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.
  • Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person’s navel.
  • Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.
  • Perform a total of five abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still isn’t dislodged, repeat the five-and-five cycle.

I love it when experts come up with easy ways for me to remember things. Five-and-Five. Five-and-five. Five-and-five. Ok, I should be able to remember that for a few hours.

If you have an infant at home, check out these instructions on performing the infant Heimlich (I would have preferred a different source for such an important topic but settled with a quick search):


Allow the infant to cough for as long as she is able.


Sit down.


Lay the infant face-down along your forearm, supporting his head.


Support your forearm by laying it along your thigh or against a table or the floor.


Use the heel of your free hand to give four or five firm, quick and controlled blows between the baby’s shoulder blades.


Place your free arm over the baby’s body, using your hand to support his head.


Turn the baby over so she is cradled face up on your free arm.


Place your index and middle finger on the center of the baby’s breastbone.


Thrust your fingers four or five times quickly and firmly into the center of the baby’s breastbone.


Continue to alternate back blows and breastbone thrusts until the object is expelled.