Choking Hazards In Children
Sources tell us that choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in children under the age of 5. One child in the United States dies from choking every five days. Young children are still in the process of learning how to chew which makes them especially vulnerable to a choking incident. While we may think choking is a trivial, common type of thing, the truth is that choking can be extremely dangerous to younger children. One source tells us that “choking can kill an individual within minutes, and quick intervention is needed to save the victim’s life.”
Consider that a young child’s windpipe (airway) is about the size of a drinking straw in diameter! Given these anatomical realities, the risk of choking is heighted for young kids. With such a small space, parents and caregivers must be extremely careful about monitoring what their children are eating and what they are doing while they eat. In the same way, you take a serious interest in your child’s overall healthcare by taking them to doctors, administering medications, and so forth, you should also know that integral to their wellness is attention to those things in their environment that might pose a choking hazard.
Parents, caregivers, guardians, and educators should do what they can to make sure that the kids around them are shielded from potentially harmful choking hazards.
What Foods Young Kids Should Avoid
There are a number of foods that may heighten the risk of a child choking:
- Hot dogs (and other chunks of meat)
- Chunks of Peanut butter (roughly a spoonful)
- Raw vegetables including raw carrots
- Whole grapes
- Chewing gum
- Hard foods like crackers and corn chips
- Hard candy/sticky candy
Be sure to carefully monitor mealtimes with your kids. If you monitor them you can encourage them to engage in healthy habits that will lessen the chance of them choking. Encourage them, for example, to chew food. For certain foods that might be difficult for them to chew, consider cutting them into small pieces. Have your young child eat in a high chair. And be sure to watch what older siblings are doing to either make the environment safer or more dangerous.
Non-Food Choking Hazards
There are a number of non-edible items that are potential choking hazards:
- Various kinds of small household items
- Latex balloons
- Small toys
- Small balls
- Small parts to tools and toys
- Button batteries
Any area where young children spend time should be monitored for these kinds of items. Small objects should be examined and determined if they pose a choking risk to kids. If you buy objects or toys, take note of the age recommendations. For a full list of choking hazards, consult this list from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For more information on measures you can take to keep your child safe, see this site.
What To Do If A Child Is Choking
Choking can be life threatening and if appropriate action is not taken, it could mean a child’s life. According to the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, signs that a child is choking could include any of the following:
- Can’t breathe
- Can’t talk, cry or make noise
- Turn blue
- Appear panicked
- Grab at their throat or wave their arms
Should any of these signs present themselves, you may need to administer CPR or abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver). With the Heimlich, a sudden burst of air is forced upward through the trachea from the diaphragm and will dislodge a foreign object and send it flying up into the mouth. This technique is not terribly complicated, but adults need proper instruction on how to perform it. There are a number of resources available to find courses to learn CPR and basic first aid skills.
What To Do If Your Child Is Hurt
Child safety is a crucial issue as we find ways to make the world safer for the youngest around us. But should a loved one be injured or tragically pass away from a choking-related incident you might be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Rothenberg Law Firm for a free case evaluation to determine your legal options.