What To Do When Someone Is Choking On Water?

What To Do When Someone Is Choking On Water?

We’ve all been there, enjoying a refreshing gulp of water only to have it go down the wrong pipe. It’s a moment that can send us into a panic, especially when it happens to someone else. But fear not, because in this article, we’re going to dive deep into the life-saving maneuvers you can perform when someone is choking on water. Whether you’re a concerned friend, a diligent parent, or just someone looking to be prepared, knowing what to do when faced with a choking emergency can make all the difference.

Choking on water might sound less severe than choking on solid food, but it can still lead to dire consequences. When someone is choking, it’s crucial to act swiftly and confidently. The good news is that with the right knowledge and a calm demeanor, you can help save a life.

The Signs of Choking

Before we delve into the steps to take when someone is choking on water, let’s recognize the signs of choking:

  • Coughing: This is the body’s natural response to clear the airway.
  • Gagging: It may sound unpleasant, but it’s a sign that something is obstructing the air passage.
  • Inability to Speak: If the person can’t utter a word or is making only faint sounds, it’s a red flag.
  • Cyanosis: The skin or lips may turn blue due to lack of oxygen.
  • Panicked Gestures: The person may clutch their throat, indicating distress.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to take action.

What to Do When Someone Is Choking on Water

  1. Stay Calm

First things first, remain as calm as a cucumber. Panicking won’t help the situation, and it can make matters worse. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re about to make a difference.

  1. Ask if They Can Breathe

Politely inquire if the person can breathe or cough. If they can, encourage them to keep coughing to clear the obstruction. It’s best not to intervene unless the person’s condition worsens.

  1. Perform the Heimlich Maneuver

If the person can’t breathe, it’s time to put on your hero cape. Here’s how to perform the Heimlich maneuver:

Stand Behind the Person

Position yourself behind the choking individual, and wrap your arms around their waist.

Make a Fist

Form a fist with one hand and place the thumb side just above their navel, right in the middle of their abdomen.

Grab Your Fist

With your other hand, grasp your fist and give a quick, upward thrust. This should force the object out of the airway. Repeat if necessary.

4. Back Blows

If the Heimlich maneuver doesn’t work, you can resort to back blows. Here’s how:

Stand to the Side

Position yourself slightly to the side of the person.

Lean Them Forward

Ask the person to lean forward slightly.

Deliver Back Blows

Use the heel of your hand to give a series of firm back blows between their shoulder blades. Continue until the object is dislodged.

5. Chest Thrusts

If the Heimlich maneuver and back blows don’t do the trick, you can try chest thrusts. Here’s what to do:

Stand Behind the Person

Stand behind them, similar to the Heimlich maneuver.

Locate the Chest

Place your fist between their breasts and slightly above the sternum.

Push Inward

Push inward and upward with quick thrusts, similar to the Heimlich maneuver. Continue until the airway is clear.

  1. Call for Help

If the person is still choking, it’s time to call 911 or your local emergency number. Emergency services can provide guidance and reach the scene quickly if necessary.

  1. CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

If the person loses consciousness, you may need to perform CPR. Remember your CPR training and administer chest compressions and rescue breaths as needed.

Preventing Choking Incidents

Prevention is always better than a cure, and when it comes to choking on water, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk:

  • Encourage slow sips of water, especially when someone is very thirsty.
  • Supervise young children during meal and snack times to ensure they don’t gulp water too quickly.
  • Teach children the importance of chewing food thoroughly and taking small sips of water.
  • Avoid distractions during meals to prevent accidental choking.


Choking on water can be a terrifying experience, but knowing what to do can save a life. Stay calm, assess the situation, and be prepared to perform life-saving maneuvers like the Heimlich maneuver, back blows, and chest thrusts. If all else fails, call for emergency assistance and be ready to perform CPR if necessary.


Remember, it’s not just about knowing what to do when someone is choking on water; it’s also about preventing such incidents. By following some simple guidelines, you can reduce the risk of choking and ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. So, stay vigilant, stay prepared, and stay safe.