Choking is the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Over the years, the Heimlich maneuver has saved an estimated 100,000 U.S. lives and thousands more worldwide since its inception in 1974. The Heimlich maneuver was developed by Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, a thoracic surgeon, medical innovator and humanitarian.

Choking occurs when a foreign object becomes lodged in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air. In adults, a piece of food often is the culprit. Young children often swallow small objects. Choking cuts off oxygen to the brain, therefore it is imperative to administer the Heimlich maneuver as quickly as possible. It can be the difference between life and death.

In the unfortunate event that you or a child is choking, it is important to know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and how to prevent choking from happening in the future.

Signs of Choking

  • Bluish skin color
  • Difficulty breathing (Gasping)
  • Inability to speak

Although there are many trainings and programs that teach this life-saving technique, many of them are catered to adults. Thankfully, the Heimlich Heroes program was developed in 2013, and teaches kids across the country how to save a life.

Generally, young people do not learn about the Heimlich maneuver until high school, if at all. A Cincinnati-based program, Heimlich Heroes, with support from the Heimlich Institute, believes in the importance of early exposure and that anyone can learn how to save a life. Young people are extremely curious and will remember these kinds of training experiences.

As a parent, of course you want the best for your children: education, common sense, life values, confidence, and so much more. In short, you want your children prepared to become successful, knowledgeable, responsible adults. This is especially important as children begin babysitting, watching over their younger siblings, or interacting with neighborhood friends. Heimlich Heroes is impactful, interactive and making a splash across the country.

Why Check Out Heimlich Heroes?

It’s impactful

Over 8,000 young people this year across the country have been trained or have registered with Heimlich Heroes for training free of charge, surpassing the 2015 goal!

It’s interactive

The Heimlich Heroes training kit includes an instructional video, learning materials for students based on their ages, and the Heidi or Hank training doll. These 42-inch dolls feature an internal diaphragm, lungs and a windpipe. The dolls’ plastic mouths expel a peanut-sized foam cushion when the maneuver is performed correctly. Practicing the maneuver on a doll helps children learn the amount of pressure they need to exert and it builds confidence in performing it. When faced with a choking emergency, trained children can spring into action to save a life.

It’s changing lives

“The children were extremely excited to learn this life-saving technique,” said Sylvia Murray, the school nurse at De Zavala Elementary in San Marcos, TX. “The training encourages and instills confidence in children to become heroes in their communities. The students even went home to teach their parents the Heimlich maneuver. The students became the teacher!”

The Heimlich Heroes program:

  • Empowers young people to see themselves as potential heroes
  • Links learning experiences with real-world events
  • Features hands-on material and online training
  • Enables young people to react confidently during an emergency situation
  • Keeps the students engaged and energized
  • Can be used as a one-time lesson or extended for classroom use
  • Is easily supplemented with our robust STEM and language arts curricula
  • Increases student confidence, independence, and self-esteem
  • It is easy to use and free to the user

Although interactive and fun, completing the Heimlich Heroes program has a very serious side. When someone is choking to death, knowing the Heimlich maneuver—and having the confidence to do it—can be life-changing.

To access free training materials and learn how to bring Heimlich Heroes to your school or organization, visit

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