How Do Back Slaps Help in a Choking Emergency?

August 08, 2022

How Do Back Slaps Help in a Choking Emergency?

Almost everyone has heard of the Heimlich maneuver, the choking first-aid treatment that involves wrapping your arms around a choking victim and thrusting hard into his or her abdomen. But did you know that is only half of the recommended emergency treatment? There’s actually another component known as back slaps that plays a critical role in restoring a person’s breathing.

Back slaps are recommended by the American Red Cross, first responder groups, doctors and medical organizations around the world as a companion treatment to the Heimlich maneuver. Here’s how the combo treatment works:

  • If a person is choking, first begin with the Heimlich maneuver, aka abdominal thrusts. Have the choking victim stand, then wrap your arms around them from behind. Make a fist with one hand and wrap the other hand around it, positioned above the belly button just under the rib cage. Thrust firmly inward and upward several times. This forces air stored in the lungs outward, hopefully dislodging the object caught in the airway.
  • Next, if the person is still choking, alternate to back slaps. Have the person lean over, making his or her chest parallel with the ground if possible. Use one arm to steady them at the shoulder while delivering several firm blows to the center of the back. Use the heel of your hand and aim between the person’s shoulder blades. This treatment works by providing a temporary pressure spike, as well as using the natural force of gravity, to push the object out of the airway.

The Red Cross recommends a “five-and-five” approach, alternating between five abdominal thrusts and five back blows until the object is clear of the airway.

These traditional first-aid treatments have proven fairly effective for many years, but deaths do still occur. Additionally, the treatments come with a risk of injury, and their invasive and somewhat jarring nature can make bystanders reluctant to attempt them. For these reasons, we recommend our innovative anti-choking device, The Dechoker, as an alternative.

The Dechoker comes with no risk of injury and is extremely easy to use, so much so that most adults could even use it on themselves. Simply apply the face mask over the nose and mouth of the choking victim, and pull back on the plunger. This creates suction, often clearing the airway within seconds.

We recommend The Dechoker not as a replacement for traditional treatments such as back slaps but as an alternative that’s available should those treatments fail. We believe caregivers, first responders and families should have every possible tool at their fingertips in a choking emergency. Learn more about how The Dechoker works here.



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