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Tips for Preventing Choking During the Holidays

With the holidays upon us and friends and family gathering together it’s important to still keep certain safety measures in mind. Did you know that every five days at least one child dies as a result of choking on food? Make sure to heed regular food safety measures during the holidays to ensure the safety of little ones!

Young children have an increased risk of choking because they have a smaller windpipe (about the width of a drinking straw), which makes it easier for them to inhale and choke on food and small objects that can get lodged in the airway.

Since it only takes about 4 minutes of oxygen deprivation for permanent brain damage to occur, knowing how to prevent choking and how to act quickly and effectively in the event of a choking emergency can be a matter of life and death. As such, here are our top 10 tips for preventing choking:

1) Don’t let children eat while playing and doing activities

2) Don’t let children eat while riding in the car

3) Cut small items, such as grapes, in half before giving them to young children

4) Cut hot dogs lengthwise and into small pieces for children under 4

5) Cook, mash or finely grate fruits and veggies

6) Don’t introduce puréed foods until after 6 months of age

7) Always supervise mealtime and snack time

8) Keep hazardous objects (such as those in the list below) out of reach of small children

9) Know what presents a choking hazard for children and learn choking first aid to stay prepared in the event of an emergency (classes are available through organizations such as the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association)

10) Educate caregivers and the community about choking hazards and precautions to take to prevent the occurrence of a hazardous choking incident.

Some of the foods most commonly choked on by young children include:

- Hot dogs - Cheese cubes - Hard candies & lollipops
- Meats - Popcorn - Gum
- Sausages - Chips - Jelly beans
- Fish with bones - Pretzel nuggets - Raw vegetables
- Marshmallows - Whole grapes - Peanut butter
- Cherry tomatoes - Nuts - Ice cubes

Some of the objects most commonly choked on by young children include:

- Coins - Marbles - Small balls
- Buttons - Deflated balloons - Watch batteries
- Jewelry - Pen caps - Paper clips
- Arts and crafts supplies - Small toys - Detachable toy parts

Be prepared when an emergency strikes to ensure the safety of your loved ones by taking a course on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and choking first aid. Keep a first aid for choking poster around to serve as a quick reminder of the first aid for choking techniques.


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