TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - If you or someone you know is choking, you need to act fast.
"You start losing brain cells in just a matter of four to five minutes, so you want to make sure they get oxygen as soon as possible," said Nicole Zmijewski, from the Toledo Fire Department.
Immediately call 911 or have someone else make the call.
"It's okay to call us and then have it come out; happens all the time," Zmijewski said. "Then we get there and then they're fine. They don't even need to go to the hospital. But it's better to get us on the way as soon as possible, so we can help as soon as we can. "
If you notice coughing, encourage it.
"Keep coughing, keep trying and really watch them," she said. "You want to pay attention to when that cough gets weak so that way you can intervene before they pass out."
Start with the Heimlich or find someone who can perform it.
"Make a fist with one hand, find his navel and go right above it. Reach around, and then you're just going to push in and up," Zmijewski said.
Now if the person choking passes out, start CPR. Even if you're not trained in CPR, you should start chest compressions the best way you know how.
If you find yourself choking when you're alone, you can actually use the back of a chair to perform the Heimlich. Just bend yourself over, find above the belly button and thrust.
One of the most important things to remember is to stay calm.
"When you're chocking, you're not getting enough oxygen. So one of the first things that's going to happen is you're going to get anxious because you're not getting enough oxygen to your brain. So you're going to get anxious or the person you're helping is going to get anxious," Zmijewski said.
Fight against that feeling and make those life-saving seconds count.