Choking when alone Of course, choking doesn't always occur when you're in the presence of others. People do choke when they're alone, so it's important to know how you should react in case food or an object becomes lodged in your throat when no one else is around. It can take as little as 15 to 30 seconds for a person who is alone to run out of oxygen while choking, making it important to stay calm, but act quickly. First, the site says, determine that you are actually choking. If you can cough, you can still breathe, and performing the Heimlich Maneuver when air can still pass through the windpipe can actually do more harm than good. If you are truly choking, there are still steps you can take to save yourself. According to Medline Plus, the way to clear an obstructed airway by yourself is very similar to the way you would do so for another person. First, make a fist, placing your thumb below your ribcage but above the bellybutton. Next, grab that fist with your other hand, exactly as you would if you were performing the Heimlich Maneuver on someone else. Finally, quickly press that fist into your stomach area. Repeat the motion, if necessary. You can also try leaning over a railing, chair handle or table ledge. Thrusting your upper abdomen against the surface can dislodge the object in your windpipe.