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Common Choking Hazards & Prevention Tips

As Labor Day celebrations commence and the kids head back-to-school, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and forget about some of the little things, like choking risks. Whether you’re at a BBQ, other social gatherings, at home, or travelling in the car, parents always need to be on the lookout for anything that might be a potential choking hazard. Young children and teething babies tend to go through phases where everything they touch goes in their mouths. The National Safety Council says that choking and suffocation is the third leading cause of home and community deaths in the United States; and according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 147 children died as a result of choking on food and other objects in 2010. Thankfully, there are some tips available to help reduce the chances of children choking.

Choking Prevention Tips:

-- Keep small objects out of reach from young children. Get down to their level and look around to see if there is anything they could get into or get a hold of. Check under furniture and in between couch cushions.

-- Avoid buying small magnets and if you do have small magnets either put them away until the children are older or place them higher up where kids can’t reach them (and keep track of them, if they get knocked off the fridge they could end up in a kid’s mouth)

-- Use age appropriate toys and games for your kids and double check to make sure there aren’t any small parts

-- Keep a close eye on children while in the car

-- Avoid giving children under 5 years of age small, round, or hard foods

-- Make sure that you cut foods small enough for the kids that they can’t be choked on (the American Academy of Pediatrics says that pieces should be no larger than ½ an inch)

-- Don’t let kids run, play, and horse-around or do other things that might distract them while they are eating. Also don’t let children lie down or eat while they are in bed.

-- Encourage and remind young children to chew their food well

Foods that pose choking hazards:

-- Hot dogs -- Nuts and Peanuts -- Sunflower seeds
-- Grapes -- Chunks of raw vegetables -- Apples
-- Candy (especially hard/gel) -- Chunks of meat -- Hunks of peanut butter
-- Popcorn -- Marshmallows -- Raw carrots
-- Chewing gum -- Cheese sticks -- Sausages


Food only accounts for about 60% of all non-fatal choking incidents. Other common choking hazards to watch out for include:

Items that pose choking hazards:

-- Coins -- Marbles & small balls -- Safety pins
-- Small magnets -- Small toys & toy parts -- Rocks
-- Button-type batteries -- Pen/marker caps -- Beads
-- Balloons -- Jewelry -- Buttons


It is also important to keep in mind that no matter how diligent and observant you are there is still a chance that your child (or a child in your care) could choke. All parents, teachers, and other caregivers should be familiar with the various choking risks and know how to perform the Heimlich remover and CPR. Knowing how to respond and being able to take quick action can save the life of someone that is choking. Since not everyone knows how to do the Heimlich remover and CPR it’s always a good idea to have a Choking First-Aid Instructional Poster around to help guide others on what to do during a choking emergency.



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