Choking on Food

Choking on a piece of food or some other object is the cause of ten deaths every day in the United States. Most of these deaths could have been prevented if a simple rescue technique had been applied as soon as distress was noted. The technique, called the Heimlich Maneuver, was devised by Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, director of surgery at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The signs of choking are frequently confused with those of a heart attack. The choking victim will turn pale, then blue, and may perspire and collapse, but the most important and obvious sign is that the victim cannot speak. In contrast, the heart attack patient will be able to talk.

When choking occurs, breathing is interrupted and must be restored within four minutes or irreversible brain damage will occur. Within eight minutes, the patient will be dead. Thus, there is no time to call for a doctor or a rescue vehicle. The victim must be saved by someone present at the moment choking occurs.

Persons most likely to choke are children, who laugh and play while eating or who swallow nonfood objects, and elderly persons who do not adequately chew their food.

To perform the Heimlich Maneuver follow these steps:

1. Stand behind the victim and wrap your arms around his waist.

2. Make a fist with one of your hands and grab it with the other.

3. Place your wrist against the victim’s abdomen, slightly above the navel and below the rib cage.

4. Allow the victim’s head, arms, and torso to hang down.

5. Press your fist into the victim’s abdomen with a forceful upward thrust. Repeat if necessary.

If the victim has fallen to the floor or is in bed, the Maneuver can be applied as follows:

1. Place the victim on his back.

2. Kneel astride his hips with one of your hands on top of the other.

3. Place the heel of the bottom hand on the abdomen, slightly above the navel and below the rib cage.

4. Press into the victim’s abdomen with a forceful upward thrust. Repeat if necessary.

If the Heimlich Maneuver is performed correctly, the food or other obstructing object should “pop” from the patient’s mouth. The principle upon which this technique is based is that of upward pressure on the diaphragm, compressing the air in the lungs so that the object is forced out, in the same way that a cork in the opening of an inflated balloon would pop out if the balloon were squeezed.

The Heimlich Maneuver may be performed on a person of any age, including infants. Less pressure should be applied in the case of a small child. The risks are minimal—some rescuers have grasped the victim too high and cracked a couple of ribs—but the alternative is death or brain damage.

The choking victim may even utilize a self-applied variation of the technique if he happens to be alone at the time. He should fall frontally against the edge of a table, counter top, or chair back—whatever might compress the abdomen enough to pop the obstruction loose.

Persons of all ages and sizes should be taught to perform the Heimlich Maneuver, just as they are taught mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Why not have all the family members try it during one of your family home evenings? By spending those few minutes, you will be prepared to save a life. Suzanne Dandoy, M.D., M.P.H, Director, Arizona Department of Health Services

Bay Leaf Backs Down

Question: Do bay leaves placed in a storage container with wheat, oatmeal, or other foods prevent insect infestation?

Bay leaves and spices in general cannot prevent insect infestation in foods. We had a weevil-infested sample of wheat germ to which we added bay leaves in a dry baby food bottle. After one month the weevil were still multiplying. Some people suggest that bay leaves will keep the insects out of clean food, but if they do this through some sort of repelling odor, the odor will grow weaker with prolonged storage. It is best to properly package your food so as to exclude insects and their larvae. Glass bottles, metal containers, and rigid plastic containers are effective in doing this. Clean wheat that has less than 12 percent moisture will not support insect life. If insects are present they may be destroyed by placing the food in the deep freeze for four to five days or by heating in a two-inch layer in the oven at 150° 12 for two hours. Thorough fumigation with carbon dioxide in a container that can be sealed to the air is also effective. (Ensign, July 1974.) Periodic checks of stored wheat are a wise precaution to ensure that insects have not infested the grain. John Hal Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University

A Private Place

Preoccupied with my own thoughts I almost missed seeing her as I hurried along the busy street. A lively, tomboyish blonde, tall for her seven years, she had been one of my pupils when she was five and we had become friends.

Now she was lying face down in the back of her father’s pickup truck, which was parked at the side of the road. Thinking she was playing a game with her younger brother, I whispered, “Who are you hiding from?”

Then I realized that this was no game. Not when she was drawn into herself as tightly as possible, arms against her sides. Not with her face pressed against the floor of the truck.

In response to my question, she turned a tear-streaked face to me.

“What is it—what’s wrong?” I asked, as I stepped to the end of the truck. We reached out to each other over the tailgate in a clumsy embrace, and the child came into my arms, pressing against me, clinging for comfort.

Broken words told of a disappointment, of what to her was a broken promise—and heartache.

We talked. We cuddled. A slow smile came.

By the time I had completed my errand and returned that way, my small friend was joyously streaking up and down the sidewalk on roller skates.

But her heartbreak is not so easy for me to set aside, and a thought comes to my mind over and over again, “No private place for tears!”

Our city living offers few secret, quiet spots where a child can slip away to sort out thoughts and emotions. Where yards exist at all, every foot is trimmed and edged, leaving no “jungles” or “forests” or “hide-outs” for an imagination to soar, for feelings to be explored.

My own hurts and disappointments were examined in the privacy of such places as a tunnel burrowed among the tall, feathery asparagus shoots in the back garden. The tiny greenish-yellow blossoms overhead proved enticing to the bees, and their activity became a distraction to tears.

Or there were secret spots up in the branches of fruit trees at the center of the orchard, where heavy foliage created a leafy room just for me.

Today, homes are often crowded and yards are often small. But I believe that even the smallest homes and the largest families can provide private places and quiet moments. Rules of privacy could be formulated in family home evening discussions. A few square feet of backyard, for instance, could be one child’s private place, and it would be “off limits” to anyone else unless invited. A closed bedroom door would signal another “hide out.”

We must care enough to provide a private place—both for children and their parents—where each can become better acquainted with self and with our Heavenly Father. Lucy Parr, Salt Lake City, Utah


A lemon will double its yield of juice if heated before squeezing. Karen May, Fresno, California

Brigham Young’s Doughnuts

This original recipe for buttermilk doughnuts was contributed by Sister Naomie Young Schettler, a granddaughter of Brigham Young. It was first made by Emily Partridge Young, Sister Schettler’s grandmother. A favorite with President Young, the doughnuts became so popular that they eventually were sold at the Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution department store in Salt Lake City. (A portrait of President Young is on this month’s inside back cover.)

1 quart (1 liter) buttermilk

2 1/2 cups (1 1/4 pound or 635 grams) sugar

4 eggs

6 tablespoons butter

3 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt



Combine ingredients, kneading in enough flour to make a soft dough, not too sticky. Roll out and cut into doughnuts. Fry in deep, hot lard.

What Relief Society Does for Three Single Women

In some ways, Johna de St. Jeor, Carol Clark, and Kristen Theurer aren’t completely typical in their relationship with the Relief Society. They’re the three unmarried members of the Relief Society General Board. From there, though, they could be any three single women anywhere in the Church.

Carol describes herself as a “convert” to Relief Society. “If I were to choose between baking a cake and reading a book, 99 percent of the time I’d read the book,” she says. “I’m just not the homemaking type.” Jogging, writing (her A Singular Life was published last year), and racquetball are also high on the list.

Her turning point came when she was called as homemaking counselor in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, student ward and discovered that those early morning lessons gave an “unbeatable spiritual tone to my Sundays.” She found the atmosphere stimulating, the people exciting, and the opportunities for compassionate service vital.

Kris confesses, “I’d never attended Relief Society until I was called to the board.” She was twenty-three when that happened, very much involved in her teaching, graduate degree, outdoor sports, music, antiquing furniture, and sewing—interests she still holds.

Johna, on the other hand, had grown up in Relief Society, and homemaking has always been one of her interests. When her military father was stationed in Peru, Johna remembers attending Relief Society with her mother and working a lot with the sisters during the family’s assignment to Guatemala. In her “spare” time, she teaches macrame at a community school and branches out into decoupage, water coloring, and ceramics.

All of them have enthusiastic things to say about the value of the Relief Society for unmarried women. Johna prizes “the companionship with other women. Some people get stuck in a dead-end job and never meet anyone. And some married women only get involved with their family. Relief Society is a way of providing new interests for everyone.”

Kris feels that one of the great facets of Relief Society is education. “In Relief Society lessons, instructors can focus on individuals and their needs in ways that would be difficult for, say, a speaker at a sacrament meeting. The smaller classes at Relief Society promote the individual approach.”

Carol feels that the Relief Society especially gives her a chance to be a helpmeet for the priesthood. “In my ward, as a visiting teacher, I’m helping the priesthood; I’m helping the bishop keep track of the sisters in the ward.”

Of her general board assignment, she comments, “Some people think it’s glamorous. It’s not. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We cry over these assignments, sometimes.”

But all of them cherish the spiritual growth that comes to them with their assignments. Kris remembers being sent to a regional conference two months after she’d been called to the board. “I’d attended Relief Society once by then, and there I was, supposed to tell women who’d been on their stake boards as long as eleven years how to implement a program. I thought, ‘This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.’ But I didn’t want the program to be a failure so I spent days praying and preparing. Finally I felt I could say to the Lord, ‘Here I am. I’m here to do thy work.’ I went in and gave that presentation and felt knowledge and understanding coming to me so that I could answer the questions. I felt that I had accomplished the work I was sent to do. That was my testimony that the Lord could take a stick and work miracles.”

Johna shares a miracle she saw in Guatemala. “My mother was called to be Relief Society president, but she knew very little Spanish so I spoke for her. Most of the sisters couldn’t read or write. When they met, the one sister who could read would read the lesson to the others. We started with ten women. Before we left, sixty were coming regularly, and they could give lessons. Somehow they learned to read. Those wonderful sisters who had never had a chance to learn were giving spiritual living lessons and cultural refinement lessons. It’s my testimony that Relief Society really changes lives.”

Carol added another insight. “It’s so great working with our presidency. I believe they work under inspiration. I’m chairman of the Young Adult-Young Special Interest committee, even though I’m the youngest on that committee in age and seniority. To me, it says that the presidency listens to youth. Relief Society is the most stimulating, most exciting organization I could be involved with. It’s the Lord’s organization for women.”

[photo] Carol Clark, Johna de St. Jeor, and Kris Theurer are just using the piano for a prop. What they’re really good at is Relief Society. (Photography by Longin Lonczyna, Jr.)

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch