Lifesaver tips: What to do when someone is choking?

Robie de Guzman   •   December 24, 2019   •   1003

It’s the time of the year when family and friends gather to celebrate the holidays.

Reunions and parties abound where everybody can be merry and feast on arrays of scrumptious food.

But what if in the middle of dining and merry-making, you spotted a family member, a friend or someone else who is coughing or gagging, and clutching their throat after choking on a piece of food?

Choking is a blockage of the upper airway or throat, which prevents a person from breathing effectively. It can be caused by a piece of food or other foreign objects that got stuck in the upper airway.

It often occurs when food is not chewed properly or if person is talking or laughing while eating.

Choking is a medical emergency that can quickly result in death if not treated immediately.

How do you know if someone is choking?

According to UNTV’s Lifesaver program, a choking person may manifest the following behaviors:

  • Coughing or gagging
  • Wheezing
  • Sudden inability to talk
  • Making panicky hand signals
  • Clutching the throat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Turning blue around the face, lips and fingernail beds

What should you do to help a choking person?

  • If the person is conscious, approach them and ask if they are choking.
  • If the person is able to answer by speaking or making a sound, it is a partial airway obstruction. Stay with him or her and encourage the person to continue coughing until the obstruction is cleared.
  • If the person cannot answer by speaking and can only nod the head, it means they have a complete airway obstruction and needs help. Help them clear the airway obstruction by performing an abdominal thrust.
  • To perform abdominal thrust, stand behind the choking person and do the tripod position by placing one foot slightly in front of the other for balance. Wrap your arms around the waist and tip the person slightly forward. If a child is choking, kneel down behind the child.
  • Make a fist with one hand and position it slightly above (around an inch) the choking person’s navel.
  • Grasp the fist with the other hand and then press hard in an inverted “J” motion or quick, upward thrust, as if you’re trying to lift the person in front.
  • Perform the abdominal thrust until the blockage is dislodged.
  • If you’re the only person with him or her, perform the abdominal thrust before calling your local emergency number for help. If another person is available, have them call for help while you perform first aid.
  • If the person becomes unconscious, lower him or her on his back onto the floor, or on an even and hard surface, with arms to the side.
  • Tilt upward the person’s head to open his or her mouth to check whether the foreign object has been cleared. If it is, remove the foreign object by reaching a finger into the mouth and sweep out the cause of choking. Do not do a finger sweep if the blockage is not visible as this may cause the food or object to push deeper into the airway.
  • Perform standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with 30 chest compression if the object remains lodged and the person does not respond. Check the mouth periodically. Repeat the process until the patient regains consciousness or until emergency responders have arrived.

Check the Lifesaver episode below on how to perform a CPR:

  • If the person has regained his or her breathing, place him or her on a recovery position by folding the arm closest to you over their chest and place the other arm at a right angle to their body. Get the leg closest to you and bend the knee. While supporting the person’s head and neck, gently take the bent knee closest to you and roll the person away from you. Adjust the upper leg so both the hip and knee are bent at right angles. Tilt the head back to ensure the airways are clear and open.

Remember these steps so you may be able to help in a situation involving a choking person.

Watch the episode of Lifesaver below for more information on performing first aid on a choking person:

Lifesaver airs every Sunday at 10:30am on UNTV, Your Public Service Channel.

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Beat the heat: How to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 5, 2020

Metro Manila recorded the highest air temperature so far on Monday (May 4).

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) recorded a soaring 36.5 degrees Celsius or an equivalent to a heat index of 41.0 degrees Celsius

With the intense heat and the ongoing enhanced community quarantine, anyone can suffer from heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion is a condition marked by weakness, nausea, dizziness, and profuse sweating that results from physical exertion in a hot environment.

Emergency Doctor Dr. Rich Santos said heat exhaustion can result in heat stroke. Heat stroke happens when an individual’s temperature reaches 41 degrees Celsius.

“Pwede ring magkaroon ng manifestation na nagkakaroon ka ng totoong stroke gaya ng paghina ng katawan. Kapag tumagal ka sa ganoong kundisyon pwede itong maging sanhi ng pagkamatay, (You can also have manifestations of a real stroke like fatigue. If the condition lasts if might become a cause of death)” he said.

Santos also said that recovering from a heat stroke can take weeks to months.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Warm, flushed skin
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Very high fever of 41°C
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Convulsion
  • Unconsciousness

Here are several lifesaving tips when someone is having heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

  • Move the person to a shady spot or indoors
  • Have him/her lie down with legs elevated
  • If able to drink liquids, have him/her sip cool water
  • Remove clothing, apply cool water to the skin, & fan the person
  • Apply ice packs to the armpits, wrists, ankles & groin

The Department of Health (DOH) said to always keep hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion and schedule heavy-duty activities for the beginning or end of the day, when it’s cooler. AAC

Lifesaver tips: What to do if someone is having a stroke

Robie de Guzman   •   February 14, 2020

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stroke is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide.

In its report, the WHO said that of the 56.9 million deaths worldwide in 2016, stroke and Ischaemic heart disease accounted for a combined 15.2 million deaths.

A stroke occurs when there’s bleeding in your brain or when blood flow to the brain is blocked or limited.

Its risk factors include having high blood pressure, had a previous stroke, smoking, diabetes and heart disease. A person’s risk of stroke also increases with age.

A stroke is a true emergency that needs quick action.

When a person is having a stroke, every second counts and quick intervention may increase a person’s chance of survival and reduce the risk of long-term disability.

Strokes, depending on its severity, can carry a number of sudden, telltale signs, including:

  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Difficulty in lifting of one or both arms to its full weight
  • Slurred or difficulty with talking and understanding speech
  • Loss of vision
  • Difficulty in walking, dizziness
  • Loss of balance or consciousness

The WHO said that having sudden severe headache with no known cause is another potential sign that one might be having a stroke.

According to UNTV’s Lifesaver program, a bystander should use F.A.S.T to help remember warning signs in the event of possible stroke:

  • Face. Does the face droop on one side when the person tries to smile?
  • Arms. Can the person lift his/her one arm to its full weight?
  • Speech. Is the person having a slurred speech or difficulty with talking and understanding speech?
  • Time. If you observe any of these signs, immediately call a local emergency number.

What should you do while waiting for the emergency medical service to arrive?

  • Remain calm. Talk to the person and reassure him or her that help is on the way.
  • If the person is conscious, gently place them into a comfortable position but do not try to move them any further.
  • Do not give them any food or liquids.
  • Note the person’s symptoms and look for any changes in condition. Also try to remember the time when symptoms started. It is important to give the emergency medical responder as much information as possible about the person’s situation.
  • If he or she falls unconscious, monitor their airway and breathing by lifting the person’s chin and tilt their head slightly backward. Look to see if their chest is moving or listen for breathing sounds.
  • If there are no signs of breathing, start performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

During a medical emergency situation, always remember to stay focused and take action quickly.

Watch these episodes of Lifesaver below for more information on the early signs of stroke:

Lifesaver: How to treat fireworks-related burns and injuries

Robie de Guzman   •   December 31, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The government has been calling on the public to ditch fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices for safer noise-maker alternatives to avoid any injuries during the celebration of the holidays.

However, there are some people who just can’t help themselves from setting those firecrackers off so UNTV’s Lifesaver program has prepared first-aid tips on how to treat burns and injuries related to the use of fireworks.

Lifesaver program host, UNTV News and Rescue Manager Benedict Galazan, said there are different first aid treatments for different types of fireworks accidents.

He, however, stressed that these are only temporary measures as victims should be immediately rushed to the nearest hospital.

Here are the first-aid tips:

  • For first degree burns, the burned or injured area should be washed under cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes to ease the pain and remove traces of chemical powder.
  • Cover the burned area using a clean cloth and, if necessary, immediately bring the victim to the hospital.

First-degree burns are considered mild and result in pain and reddening of the skin.

  • For second degree burns, run cool water on the wound for 10 to 15 minutes to stop the bleeding and ease the pain.
  • Cover the wound with a clean cloth or plastic wrap then bring the victim to the nearest hospital.

Second-degree burns affect the epidermis and lower layer of the skin and may cause pain, redness, and blistering.

When blistering occurs, the swollen area of the skin should not be popped.

“‘Yung mga blister o paltos ay huwag puputukin. Kasi iyan po ang pinaka-defense mechanism ng katawan ‘yan na kapag may heat na naramdaman ang katawan, magpo-produce siya ng liquid para ‘yun din ang makatulong sa pagcool-down ng burn,” Galazan said.

  • For third-degree burns, run the wound on cool water for 10 to 15 minutes to stop the bleeding and ease the pain.
  • Carefully put pressure on the injured area to control the bleeding.
  • Do NOT apply toothpaste, cream or any oil-based ointment to the wound or burn.
  • Cover the injured area with a clean cloth or plastic wrap then bring the victim to the hospital.

Third-degree burns affect the dermis and deeper skin tissues and may result in white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.

  • For injured fingers, hands and other limbs, Lifesaver advises to run the injured part under cool water. Do NOT use ice.
  • If the fingers are still intact, run it as well on cool water.
  • If some fingers or other body parts are dismembered or lost, apply pressure using a tourniquet or any device (bandage and stick, rope or belt) to a limb or extremity to limit – but not stop – the flow of blood.
  • Also, try to look for the dismembered finger, and wrap them in a clean cloth. Place them inside a sealed plastic bag and put it in ice.
  • Bring the victim and the dismembered body part to the nearest hospital.

Dismembered limbs need to be brought with the victim to the hospital as these may still be reattached through surgery.

  • For eye injuries, flush the affected eye with cool water to remove any traces of firecracker powder.
  • Do NOT scratch or touch the injured eye.
  • If it is bleeding, use gauze or a paper cup to cover and protect the injured eye. Be careful not to put pressure on the eye.
  • Bring the patient to the nearest hospital

For ingestion or firecracker or its powder, here are the first aid tips:

  • Let the patient drink raw egg whites. Health experts recommend six to eight egg whites to a child and eight to 12 to an adult.
  • The patient should not attempt to throw up the ingested firecracker to prevent further damage.
  • Bring the victim to the nearest hospital.

Remember, if the wound is larger than the size of the palm of the hand, immediately bring the victim to the nearest hospital or call emergency medical services such as 8-911-UNTV.

Watch the episode of Lifesaver below for more first aid tips on firecracker burns:

– RRD (Correspondent Harlene Delgado contributed to this report)


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