Basic lifesaving practices are emergency measures often consisting of simple techniques that people can learn to perform with minimum equipment and no prior medical experience to help victims during emergencies.

While they are not classified as medical treatment, they can be helpful in preserving life until professional assistance is available. Read on to find the best practices for smoke-choked individuals.

Symptoms of smoke inhalation

Generally, smoke is a by-product of fire, but it does not mean you have to be locked up in a less ventilated room to be overwhelmed with smoke. Smoke inhalation can happen from minor fires like;

  • Smoldering at the start of electrical fires.
  • Stovetop fires.
  • Boiler fires.
  • Fireplaces with faulty systems.
  • Smoldering mattresses and furniture from lazy smokers who cannot put away matches and cigarettes

Smoke inhalation symptoms vary. Minor complications include coughing jags, irritated eyes, and general body weakness. These signs can get serious if the victims are not immediately evacuated from the smoke scene.

Steps of treating smoke-choked individuals

Helping smoke-choked should be treated the same as any other emergencies. In that regard, you need to perform first aid to the victim before taking them to the hospital or getting professional assistance.

The common term used in first aid is the ABC. The acronym stands for airway, breathing, and circulation. The fourth procedure will occur in the emergency procedure later on at the facility.

  • Airway. Ensure the victim’s airway is clear choking that blocks the airway can be severe if not attended to immediately.
  • Breathing. Once you have confirmed that the airway is clear, check if the person is breathing and, if possible, offer breathing assistance.
  • Circulation. If the person is not breathing, the person helping should go straight for rescue breathing and chest compressions. The compressions or CPR will encourage circulation in the body. Doing this will save a lot of time. The first aider should check the victim’s pulse in less threatening emergencies before embarking on the CPR process.

1. Call for emergency help if the victim

  • Is choking violently.
  • Is unconscious.
  • Has chest tightness of pains.
  • Experiencing wheezing, irregular breathing, or shortness of breath.
  • Has burns in the mouth, throat, or nose.
  • Is vomiting or nauseated.
  • Has blurry or double vision.

If the person is conscious, ask them if they have any lung problems such as asthma or COPD and confirm if the acute inhaler is close so they can self-administer.

2. Move the victim to safety.

Once you have assessed the area for your own safety, you can move the person to a safe place to get fresh air. Lay them on the side or sit them in an upright position, not their back. If they are coughing or vomiting phlegm, you’ll not want them to choke from it.

3. Start performing CPR.

While you are waiting for the emergency team and the person is not breathing, you can move ahead and start giving CPR. If the victim is a child, perform child CPR and for adults, do the adult CPR.

If the person has clammy or pale skin, sweating, glazed eyes or rapid breathing, dizziness, vomiting, or weakness, ensure help is on the way and do everything possible to help the person.

4. Get to the hospital emergency room.

Once the help has arrived, ensure the person is taken to the hospital emergency room. The victim should be examined immediately, regardless of whether there are symptoms or not. Complications from smoke inhalation may not show up immediately and can escalate quickly into something fatal.

5. Do follow up.

At the health facility, the next procedure will depend on the specific case. Doctors will check the airway for blockage, perform tests and administer oxygen if necessary. Antibiotics, inhaled cortisone, a bronchodilator, or any appropriate medication can be prescribed.

Depending on the severity of the damage, the patient may be admitted for advanced treatment and management.


Smoke inhalations, if not attended to immediately, can escalate to something more serious. Taking fast steps to help the victim can help preserve life until professional help is around. Consider it as an emergency and perform first aid.

Place the victim in a recovery position and check the pulse, confirm if the airway is clear and look if they are breathing. You can offer rescue breathing and perform CPR based on the level of severity while waiting for help.