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What To Do When Someone Is Choking On Water?

choking on water

Choking incidents are challenging to tackle and can lead to loss of life when no rescuer is in sight. In fact, sometimes even rescuers hesitate to help a choking person as they do not have a clear idea of the right procedure to follow. Some rescuers panic and delay calling 911 or the medical emergency team. Thus, you should have the right knowledge on what to do when you see someone choking on water.

Helping someone who is choking is also one of the prominent life-saving skills that improves the chances of survival. Such an accident might happen at any time, therefore you must stay prepared. Read the blog to learn about water choking situations to know how do you choke on water and how to save a life when there is no help around. 

Can anyone choke on water?

Yes, anyone can choke on water. In fact, you might wonder why do we choke on water? 

In fact, choking on water is more common than we even estimate it to be. It can happen anytime, irrespective of anyone’s age, location, situation, gender, or experience. Even a momentary lapse in concentration during a sip can lead to a choking incident.

What happens when someone chokes on water?

When someone is choking on water, the air passage blocks, causing difficulties in breathing for them. If they do not treat this situation on time, it leads to aspiration pneumonia, an infection that spreads when fluids enter the lungs instead of the patient’s stomach. It requires the patient to seek immediate medical help to avoid severe coughing or high fever afterward. 

What steps must you perform when you see someone choking on water?

Acting swiftly reduces the risks of choking on water and helps a choking victim before they fall unconscious. Below are the steps to help a choking patient:

  • Assess the Situation: Quickly determine if the person is indeed choking. They may be clutching their throat and unable to speak or cough.
  • Encourage Coughing: If the person is coughing, it’s a sign that they can still clear their airway. 
  • Perform Back Blows: If coughing doesn’t work, stand behind the person and deliver five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades.
  • Perform Abdominal Thrusts: If back blows don’t work, stand behind the person, place your arms around their waist, and make a fist with one hand. Place the other hand over the fist and give quick, upward thrusts or forceful blows to help dislodge the object.
  • Continue Alternate Back Blows and Abdominal Thrusts: Repeat these steps until the obstruction is cleared or until professional help arrives.

What are the common risks of choking on water?

Choking on water can have various consequences, ranging from mild discomfort to severe medical emergencies. These risks include:

  • Aspiration pneumonia is due to water entering the lungs.
  • Lack of oxygen can lead to the patient falling unconscious.
  • Potential long-term complications if not treated promptly.

How to save yourself when you are choking on water?

If you find yourself choking on water, remaining calm is essential. Perform a self-administered Heimlich maneuver using a chair or countertop to apply pressure below your ribcage. Alternatively, lean forward and use your body weight to exert pressure on your abdomen.

Current guidelines for saving a patient when choking on water

The current guidelines will help you to take immediate action. Begin with back blows and abdominal thrusts, and only call for professional help if the situation doesn’t improve.

What are back blows? How do you perform those?

Back blows are forceful strikes between the shoulder blades to dislodge an object. 

To perform these forceful back blows and tackle the improper swallowing incident of the patient, follow the steps narrated below:

  • Stand slightly to the side and behind the person.
  • Lean them forward slightly.
  • Deliver five sharp blows using the heel of your hand between the shoulder blades.

How long will a patient survive if they continue to choke on water?

The duration a patient can survive while choking on water varies depending on factors like age, overall health, and the severity of the blockage. However, acting quickly is crucial, as prolonged choking can lead to severe complications.

What should you do when someone falls unconscious after choking on water?

If someone falls unconscious after choking on water, call 911 immediately before starting CPR. 

An online CPR and first aid course will teach you how to prevent choking on water and what to do if someone is choking on water. 

So, after taking this course, you will have enough preparation and knowledge to save the choking victim on time. 

How to prevent choking on water accidents in the first place?

Prevention is key. To reduce the risk of choking on water:

  • Take small sips, especially if you’re in a rush or not paying full attention.
  • Avoid laughing or talking while swallowing.
  • Be cautious when consuming water in situations where distractions are likely.


In conclusion, knowing how to respond when someone is choking on water can save lives. Quick, decisive action is paramount. Remember to remain calm, follow the steps outlined, and seek professional help if needed. By being informed and prepared, you can make a significant difference in such situations. Stay safe!