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Dechoker in the Great Outdoors, Part 2: Hiking

August 08, 2019

Dechoker in the Great Outdoors, Part 2: Hiking

Welcome back to our three-part blog series on summertime adventures. In this post, we’re taking a close look at hiking, the beloved outdoor activity that helps us get away from it all.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of leaving the car behind and setting off on foot into the wilderness. Whether you’re taking a coastal walk along a bluff trail or delving deep into a thick forest, there’s something magical about exploring areas that are hard to get to.

On the flipside, these areas are also hard to get to for first responders should anything go wrong. And when it comes to choking, the first few moments are critical. After just four minutes without oxygen, a choking victim can begin to experience brain damage.

This is why hikers need to be prepared to rely on themselves in a choking emergency. Here are our best prevention and first-aid tips for hikers who are concerned about choking:

Stop hiking to eat.

If you’re heading out for a hike that’s more than a couple of hours, you’re probably planning to take some food with you. Whether you’ve got a backpack filled with sandwiches and snacks on a day hike or you’re doing a long, multi-day stretch, it’s important to stop hiking while you eat.

Most adults feel pretty confident about eating while walking, but the truth is that your choking risk goes way up if you eat while moving around rather than sitting still. When hiking, that risk may be even higher if you’re walking on uneven ground, not focusing on eating, or if you’re breathing harder than usual. When you’re a long way from help, it’s just not worth the risk. Don’t munch on a handful of granola while you hike. Find a nice spot, have a seat, and simply take a break for a few minutes to enjoy your food safely.

Brush up on first-aid techniques.

The best thing anyone who is worried about choking can do for peace of mind — whether you’re a hiker or not — is familiarize yourself with first-aid treatments. Before you head out on the trail, away from others who might know how to help someone who is choking, it’s time to brush up yourself.

The American Red Cross, along with first responders and medical groups worldwide, recommend an alternating combination of two techniques to help a choking person:

  • Abdominal thrusts, aka the Heimlich maneuver, involve wrapping your arms around the victim, making a fist just under the ribcage, and thrusting firmly inward and upward. Learn more about the technique here.
  • Back slaps involve using the heel of your hand to deliver firm blows between the choking person’s shoulder blades. Learn more about back slaps here.

The Red Cross recommends a “five-and-five” approach of doing five abdominal thrusts, then five back slaps, and repeating until the cause of the choking is dislodged from the airway.

Take a Dechoker.

You now know what to do if someone is choking, but what if those first-aid treatments fail? Or what if you’re hiking alone and you choke? We recommend a backup plan: The Dechoker.

Our innovative anti-choking device is an alternative to standard treatments. It’s lightweight and portable, fitting easily in a hiking pack, and it’s so easy to use that most adults could use it on themselves. We believe everyone should have every tool possible at their disposal in a choking emergency, and especially in high-risk situations such as on a hike, a long way from help. Learn more about how to use The Dechoker here.

If you missed the first part of our blog series, click here to learn about why The Dechoker is an essential piece of gear for family camping. And remember to check back soon for our final installment, all about solo adventuring.


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