Dealing with a Choking Emergency


Unfortunately, more than 3,000 people die each year as a result of choking. If a choking emergency occurred at your foodservice establishment, would you be prepared? Know the basic steps to help a choking victim and prevent choking emergencies.

Understand the Causes

Everyday activities can create a choking emergency at your foodservice establishment, including:

  • Swallowing large pieces of food
  • Drinking alcohol before meals
  • Wearing dentures
  • Eating while talking or laughing
  • Consuming food too quickly
  • Walking or running with food in mouth

Look for Clues

Stay observant and look for signs that patrons may be choking, including:

  • Coughing or gagging
  • Hand signals
  • Panic
  • Sudden inability to speak
  • Wheezing
  • Turning blue in the face
  • Passing out

Know How to Respond

Choking is a serious, life-threatening emergency and needs to be treated immediately.

  • As soon as you believe a person is choking, call 911 immediately for help.
  • Do not attempt to drive the victim to the hospital yourself.
  • Keep your staff updated on the latest safety response methods, like the Heimlich maneuver, and other safety protocol to successfully help a choking victim.
  • Keep diagrams and instructions on how to help a choking victim at the ready for staff members.

For more information, contact your local emergency response personnel.