Eureka! Lesson Plans

Performing the Heimlich Maneuver

Lesson Plan Information | Lesson Plan Activities | Printable version (including handouts) (PDF)

Pre-Teaching Considerations
Standard Read with Understanding

Student goals Choking is fairly common and can be a serious incident. Students want to know what to do in case they are with someone who is choking or find themselves choking.

Choking: First Aid
Introduction to the Heimlich Maneuver
How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on Another Person
Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on Yourself
Performing the Heimlich Maneuver

Successful completion of the Heimlich maneuver by each student
Teacher observation of students practicing the Heimlich maneuver

Learner prior knowledge Experience identifying parts of the human body. Students should have practiced finding the main idea when reading for information. The student's level of proficiency in their native language affects acquisition of a second language, remember to always build their new learning on their existing skill base.

Activities/Curricular Resources (Real-Life Applications)
Teacher defines choking and presents a chart for students to analyze.

TEACHER NOTE To find posters for your classroom, check out Enter your zip code to find the nearest Red Cross agency. Also, you can order posters online from

Start by posing a "What if..." question. "What if during lunch today your best friend was choking; what would you do?"

Using the articles provided by readability level, students will read and give information found for the causes, symptoms and prevention of choking. Some of the answers may include:

Causes of choking
eating too fast
alcohol consumption
inhaling vomited material
small objects inhaled by children
Symptoms of choking
inability to speak
weak coughing
noisy breathing
difficulty breathing
bluish skin color
loss of consciousness
Preventing choking
cut food in small pieces
avoid laughing during chewing or swallowing
eat slowly
make sure dentures fit properly
don't drink too much before/during eating
keep small objects away from children

Before class, prepare 3 chart papers with the titles: Causes of Choking, Symptoms of Choking and Preventing Choking. This activity could be completed as a carousel where students write information on each chart paper after reading or done in pairs or triads at their tables and then debrief as a whole group.

Abdominal thrusts (also known as the "Heimlich maneuver" (HIM'lik mah-NOO'ver) are a series of under-the-diaphragm abdominal thrusts. They're recommended for helping a person who's choking on a foreign object. Abdominal thrusts lift the diaphragm and force enough air from the lungs to create an artificial cough. The cough is intended to move and expel an obstructing foreign body in an airway. Each thrust should be given with the intent of removing the obstruction.

Describe and explain all the steps in the Heimlich maneuver, as well as how to handle a breathing emergency, as described below:
  1. If someone is having trouble breathing, help him/her rest in a comfortable position which makes breathing easier.
  2. Have someone call 911.
  3. Talk to the victim to see if he or she can speak. Ask the question, "Are you choking?" A victim who can not breathe can not speak or make any noise and may answer by nodding. If the victim is an infant, try to make the child speak and check breathing and skin color continually.
  4. Explain that when someone is choking, the food or object goes down the wrong path and enters the bronchi instead of the esophagus. If the victim is choking and air is not passing in and out of the bronchi, the Heimlich maneuver is suggested.
  5. Place the thumb side of a fist against the middle of the abdomen just above the navel. Grasp the fist with the other hand.
  6. Give quick upward thrusts.
  7. Repeat until the object is coughed up, or the person becomes unconscious.
TEACHER NOTE Contact your local Red Cross for information about trainings and demonstrations.

Have students select partners and practice the Heimlich maneuver skills. They can use a classroom chart or other prompts (journal notes or handout) to help them remember the steps. The instructor will move around the classroom and observe each student perform the Heimlich maneuver.

Ask the class the original question; "If your best friend was choking today at lunch, what would you do?" Give the students time to respond.

Using the information on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself, students should also practice that procedure individually.

not yet completed

Next Steps
Completion of the Red Cross First Aid course.

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