How to Prevent Choking
One of the scariest things a parent can come face to face with is their child choking. It is part of an infant’s learning curve and method of discovery to put things in his mouth — big things, small things, things that don’t belong there, things that do.
As summer approaches, we need to be extra vigilant about protecting our children from potential choking hazards.
Facts about Choking
Did you know that:
- Choking is the leading cause of death among children especially those under 48 months
- Choking is the number one cause of accidental death in babies under 12 months
- Over 17,000 children were treated in emergency rooms because of choking in 2001
- More than 50 percent of choking incidents involve food
- Balloons are the leading, non-food-related cause of choking for children under 36 months and are a common cause of choking in children up to age 8 years
Safe Food Tips to Prevent Choking
Since more than 50 percent of choking incidents involve food, it is important to identify the most commonly associated foods and suggest some tips for snack time and meal time.
Foods that pose a choking hazard include:
- Whole hot dogs
- Hard candy
- Whole Grapes
- Peanut butter
- Oranges and grapefruit pieces
Simple safe food tips include:
- Remember that children under the age of 4 years old are still trying to master chewing, swallowing and breathing at the same time
- If your child does not have molars, the possibility of choking increases
- Be vigilant at family, friend or community gatherings for foods that might be easily grabbed by a child and shoved in his mouth.
- Supervise meals. Avoid meals on the go where your attention is occupied with other things, such as driving. Children may not be able to tell you that they’re choking, When this happens, you need to respond immediately.
- Whole hot dogs should never be given to a child. Hot dogs, grapes, grape tomatoes, cheese and other foods should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Hot dogs should be sliced lengthwise into fours and then crosswise into smaller pieces. As the child masters chewing, cut the hot dog in half lengthwise and then cut horizontally, creating semi-circles pieces.
- Apples should be peeled and cut into small pieces. Oranges and grapefruit pieces should be carefully cleared of stringy rind and cut into small pieces. Whatever fruit you’re serving, make sure it is cut into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Make sure your child has swallowed everything in his mouth before he leaves the table. “Squirreling” food in his mouth can increase the risk of choking while the child is playing.
Safe Home Tips to Prevent Choking
Small game pieces and other objects, such as rings, earrings, erasers, safety pins, screws and bolts. Keep these safe home tips in mind this summer:
- Toys that are “small enough to fit through a 1-1/4-inch circle or is smaller than 2-1/4 inches long is unsafe for children under 4 years old.” (Parents.com)
- Pay close attention to the age recommendations on toys and be careful about allowing a small child to play with something meant for an older child. Many of these toys have small pieces that can pose a choking hazard to a young child.
- Keep games with small pieces in a separate room separate from where the younger children play.
- Avoid buying toys out of vending machines. These toys do not have to conform to any safety regulations.
The vast majority of choking incidents are completely preventable with a little vigilance and care. No one wants a family event to end in choking, a trip to the hospital, or with the death of a child from something that could easily have been prevented.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
“How to Prevent Choking” Dana, Lisa. BabyCenter.com. Web. May 10, 2012.
Household Safety: Preventing Choking. KidsHealth.com. Web. May 10, 2012.
Choking Hazards and Your Baby. Parents. Web. May 10, 2012.
Choking/Suffocation Prevention. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Web. May 10, 2012.