CLOSE
iStock
iStock

What’s the Best Way to Stop Yourself From Choking?

iStock
iStock

We’ve all been there. One moment you’re sitting alone watching ridiculous YouTube videos and eating a piece of pizza; the next, you’ve aspirated a piece of burnt crust and find yourself gasping for air. What you do next could save your life … but what do you do next?

1.CALL FOR HELP & PUSH

The Red Cross recommends starting with a call to 911. "Even if you are not able to speak, the open line will cause the dispatcher to send help," Don Lauritzen of the American Red Cross told mental_floss. "Give yourself abdominal thrusts, using your hands, just as if you were giving abdominal thrusts to another person. Alternatively, bend over and press your abdomen against any firm object, such as the back of a chair or a railing. Do not bend over anything with a sharp edge or corner that might hurt you, and be careful when leaning on a railing that is elevated."

2. THE BOXER TRICK

In the video above, paramedic Jeff Rehman demonstrates his very own auto-first-aid maneuver, which he adapted from an ab exercise he used to use in his previous career as a boxer. The basic premise is simple: Use gravity and your body weight to knock the wind—and, with it, the contents of your windpipe—out of yourself. This will not feel good, but it still beats choking to death.

3. THE INVERTED BABY

Image Credit: Luczak 2016. Resuscitation.

The Heimlich Maneuver may be the best-known method, but it’s not the best, and most emergency medicine practitioners use it only as a last resort. For adults, the Red Cross currently recommends the Five and Five method [PDF]: cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts.

Babies’ bodies are far too fragile to be pummeled in this way. Instead, experts recommend [PDF] holding the baby facedown and upside-down and administering smaller, but still firm, blows.

What works for babies can also work for adults, experts say. Invert your respiratory tract by hanging upside down, either in a downward-dog-style pose or by dangling over the side of a chair like you’re trying to look underneath it. Once again, gravity should come to your rescue.

Need more assurance? Take a class with the Red Cross or download their free First Aid app, which offers step-by-step guidelines for dealing with choking and other basic medical emergencies.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
iStock
iStock

We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Not Sure About Your Tap Water? Here's How to Test for Contaminants
iStock
iStock

In the wake of Flint, Michigan's water crisis, you may have begun to wonder: Is my tap water safe? How would I know? To put your mind at ease—or just to satisfy your scientific curiosity—you can find out exactly what's in your municipal water pretty easily, as Popular Science reports. Depending on where you live, it might even be free.

A new water quality test called Tap Score, launched on Kickstarter in June 2017, helps you test for the most common household water contaminants for $120 per kit. You just need to take a few samples, mail them to the lab, and you'll get the results back in 10 days, telling you about lead levels, copper and cadmium content, arsenic, and other common hazardous materials that can make their way into water via pipes or wells. If you're mostly worried about lead, you can get a $40 test that only tells you about the lead and copper content of your water.

In New York State, a free lead-testing program will send you a test kit on request that allows you to send off samples of your water to a state-certified lab for processing, no purchase required. A few weeks later, you'll get a letter with the results, telling you what kind of lead levels were found in your water. This option is great if you live in New York, but if your state doesn't offer free testing (or only offers it to specific locations, like schools), there are other budget-friendly ways to test, too.

While mailing samples of your water off to a certified lab is the most accurate way to test your water, you can do it entirely at home with inexpensive strip tests that will only set you back $10 to $15. These tests aren't as sensitive as lab versions, and they don't test for as many contaminants, but they can tell you roughly whether you should be concerned about high levels of toxic metals like lead. The strip tests will only give you positive or negative readings, though, whereas the EPA and other official agencies test for the concentration of contaminants (the parts-per-billion) to determine the safety of a water source. If you're truly concerned with what's in your water, you should probably stick to sending your samples off to a professional, since you'll get a more detailed report of the results from a lab than from a colored strip.

In the future, there will likely be an even quicker way to test for lead and other metals—one that hooks up to your smartphone. Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old from Colorado, won the 2017 Young Scientist Challenge by inventing Tethys, a faster lead-testing device than what's currently on the market. With Tethys, instead of waiting for a lab, you can get results instantly. It's not commercially available yet, though, so for now, we'll have to stick with mail-away options.

[h/t Popular Science]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios