More than 5,000 people die in the U.S. each year from choking, which is one of the leading causes of death for children under 5 and adults over 65. Yet, most families are less prepared for a choking incident than for many other emergencies, including fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and drowning.
What makes this most tragic of all is that these deaths may be preventable. First-aid treatments for choking are not common practice for most people, and we’re here to look at why.
Choking is the kind of emergency that is common enough that most people know someone who has had an incident, but not so common that everyone has a personal experience to recount. It’s the kind of thing people understand can happen to anyone, but it feels remote enough that many would rather just not think about it.
Choking seems like an insidious threat that could strike at any time and that we have no control over, like a lightning bolt. While that may be true, we believe that thinking through those “scary thoughts” can be empowering. Rather than ignore the risk and hope it doesn’t happen, we can prepare for the risk should it occur and feel reassured in that preparedness.
Another possible reason more people aren’t prepared for choking is that the commonly accepted first-aid treatments can be intimidating. Doctors and other experts recommend a combination of two choking treatments: back slaps and abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver.
These treatments are often quite effective and relatively simple for most laypeople to learn, but many people are reluctant to try them for a couple of reasons. First, even when performed perfectly by a trained professional, abdominal thrusts often result in injury such as broken ribs. Obviously, that injury is minor compared with death, but it still puts people on edge. Second, the intimate nature of these treatments can make people anxious, particularly when it comes to helping a stranger, say in a restaurant.
There are reports of some people feeling too nervous to step in and help a choking victim for fear that they might be liable for any injury and even at risk of a lawsuit, simply for trying to help. Good Samaritan Laws have been enacted in most states to protect such people, but there’s no denying that some natural hesitation remains.
We believe that we may have a solution to help stem the tide of choking deaths: The Dechoker. Our innovative anti-choking device is extremely easy to use — so easy that most adults could even use it on themselves if they were alone.
To use the device, simply apply the face mask over the mouth and nose and pull back on the plunger, which uses suction to clear the airway. No major contact with the victim is required, and there’s no risk of injury. The Dechoker can be used as an alternative to traditional treatments on anyone age 1 or older, and we believe it could truly change the landscape of choking deaths.
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