Last week we wrote a blog about kids food allergies. This week TLC for Kids is sharing information on choking hazards for kids.
Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 5. Children under the age of 5 are at greatest risk for choking injury and death. Toys, household items and foods can all be a choking hazard. The most common cause of nonfatal choking in young children is food. At least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S., and more than 10,000 children are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food-choking injuries. Toy manufacturers label toys for choking hazards and some food manufacturers voluntarily label food products as posing a potential choking risk; however, any food can present a choking risk. Education regarding choking risks, precautions to take in avoiding these risks, and known lifesaving procedures are necessary to eliminate senseless and tragic injuries and deaths caused by choking. Pediatricians, family practice physicians, health care workers, parents, grandparents, day care workers, school personnel, older children, siblings, babysitters and communities as a whole play a key role in the prevention of injuries and need to share information with caregivers to identify potential choking hazards. The size of a young child’s trachea (windpipe) is approximately the size of a drinking straw in diameter. Imagine a piece of popcorn being lodged in this small area!
The following are examples of unsafe foods for children under age 5.
- Hot dogs or sausages (unless cut in quarters lengthwise before being sliced)
- Hard candies (especially hard or sticky candy), cough drops, gum, lollipops, marshmallows, caramels, hard candies, and jelly beans
- Chunks of peanut butter (Peanut butter may be spread thinly on bread or a cracker—but never give chunks of peanut butter to a toddler.)
- Popcorn, chips, pretzel nuggets, and corn chips
- Raw carrots, celery, green beans
- Dried fruit (such as raisins)
- Seeds (such as processed pumpkin or sunflower seeds)
- All nuts, including peanuts
- Whole grapes, cherries, cherry tomatoes (Cut them in quarters.)
- Large chunks of any food such as meat, potatoes, or raw vegetables and fruits
- Ice cubes and cheese cubes
- Foods that clump, are sticky or slippery, or dry and hard textured
The following are examples of household items/toys that could present a choking hazard for children under age 5.
- Latex balloons, coins, marbles, toys with small parts, small balls, pen or marker caps, button type batteries, medicine syringes, screws, stuffing from a bean bag chair, rings, earrings, crayons, erasers, staples, safety pins, small stones, tiny figures, and holiday decorations including tinsel, or ornaments and lights
- Any toy or other object that is labeled as a potential choking hazard