Finding yourself in a medical emergency with no one around can be a very scary thing. Knowing what to do in these situations can save your life. If you are enjoying a meal by yourself and begin choking, do you know what to do? In this article, we’ll explore ways you can help yourself in a choking emergency!

What to do when you’re alone and choking

If you begin to choke on something when you are alone, don’t panic! Roy Shaw, ProTrainings co-founder, and certified paramedic, explains the steps to take to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself when you’re alone and choking.

  1. Call 911 and leave the phone off the hook

    The dispatcher will send someone to help even if they hear no talking on the other end.

  2. Try to cough up the object

    If you can cough or make any sound, your airway is not completely blocked. Try clearing the object with forceful coughing. Do not try to drink anything as this can compound the problem.

  3. Perform the Self-Heimlich

    This is essentially the same Heimlich maneuver that you would perform on another person, but instead, you will perform it on yourself. Make a fist with one hand and put the thumb side between your belly button and rib cage. Place your other hand on top of that. Push as hard as you can in a quick motion straight into your abdomen. This will put pressure on the bottom of your diaphragm, which will compress your lungs and force the remaining air to push up through your trachea, hopefully with enough force to dislodge the object.

  4. Seek medical help

    Once you dislodge the obstruction, you should go to the emergency room or urgent care. The Heimlich maneuver can cause internal damage and you should be examined for any complications. The doctor will also check your lungs to be sure you have not aspirated any foreign substance into your lungs which could cause infection or other complications.

Alternative choking maneuvers

If the object still will not come out after trying the methods mentioned above, you can use the back of a chair to increase the pressure that you are able to exert. Keep your hands in the same position as with the Heimlich maneuver, but lean your torso over the back of a chair. This should allow you to increase the amount of pressure and dislodge the object.

Another alternative option to try if the abdominal thrusts did not work is a technique that was developed by Fireman and Paramedic, Jeff Rehman, and made popular on YouTube. It looks a lot like a push-up, but with a little more upward momentum than is typical and allowing yourself to fall with your arms straight in front of you. This will push the air out of your lungs and hopefully dislodge any obstruction with it. You can watch a demonstration of the technique on YouTube.

Pregnant, alone, and choking

Keep in mind that the maneuvers we discuss in this article will not apply to pregnant women. If you are pregnant, you should place your hands higher than usual, under the breast bone. Another alternative maneuver is to slam your back into a wall while coughing.


Following the steps we’ve outlined could save your life. To review: (1) call 911; (2) try coughing the object up; (3) self-administer the Heimlich maneuver or use a chair to increase the force of the pressure; (4) if necessary, try alternative maneuvers; and (5) seek medical attention.

Preparation in an emergency situation can make all the difference. ProTrainings offers a full range of CPR and safety courses so that you will know what to do in any situation. Check out the full course catalog to make sure you’re ready for an emergency.

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