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Offering recognition to this important life-saving technique, National Heimlich Maneuver Day was established in recent years to draw attention to the need for people to know the Heimlich Maneuver so they can be prepared to help. This day takes a prominent place on the calendar as it kicks off National Safety Month.  

History of National Heimlich Maneuver Day

The background of National Heimlich Maneuver Day can be traced back to the early 1970s when Dr. Henry J. Heimlich read an article in the New York Times that gave statistics that thousands of people each year die because of choking incidents. At the time, the method to help a choking person was to pat them on the back, but Heimlich and other doctors suspected that this action could actually make things worse.

Dr. Heimlich devised a new style of help for a choking person that could be practiced not only by health care professionals but also by average citizens in the community. In 1974, Heimlich even used the maneuver himself to save the life of a woman in a nursing home. Since that time, when used appropriately, the Heimlich maneuver is estimated to have saved the lives of more than 100,000 people all over the world. 

The concept behind the Heimlich maneuver is to stand behind and wrap the arms around the waist of the choking person. Place one hand in a fist with the other cupped around it below the ribs, press the hands in and up so that the person is pulled upward onto their toes. This may be repeated several times until the food or choking hazard is dislodged and the person can breathe again.

How to Celebrate National Heimlich Maneuver Day

Be a good citizen and make the world a safer place by celebrating National Heimlich Maneuver Day with some of these ideas to get started:

Learn the Heimlich Maneuver

An excellent way for any caregiver, health care professional or really just any concerned citizen to celebrate National Heimlich Maneuver Day would be to commit to learning the procedure. While the theory might be simple, it is vital that the maneuver be practiced in the right way in order to be effective and not cause more harm. Taking a class that teaches the Heimlich maneuver might be a good way to go, including many first aid classes. It’s an amazingly small investment that could mean saving someone else’s life!

Remember Important Points About the Heimlich Maneuver 

Even those who have been trained in this technique can certainly use National Heimlich Maneuver Day to act as a reminder or refresher in case the time comes to use it. Consider some of these important points about the technique:

  • Only use the Heimlich maneuver on a conscious person and never on an infant (first aid for infants is very different).

  • Before helping, be sure to get consent from the person, or if it is a choking child get consent from the parent.

  • Anytime the Heimlich maneuver is performed, someone should call 911 or the local emergency number.

  • It is not currently recommended to use the Heimlich maneuver on drowning victims.

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