Choking occurs when a solid object, such as a piece of food, a small toy, or a balloon, blocks the passage that allows air to the lungs. With a mild blockage, a person can speak, cough, and gag. A mild blockage can typically be cleared by coughing. Encourage someone with a mild blockage to cough forcibly. Stay close and be ready to take action if things worsen. If blockage continues, activate EMS. When a severe blockage occurs, a person cannot pull in outside air to create a cough forceful enough to dislodge the object. Help from a bystander is required to save the person’s life.