As your Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer, representing Hoosiers all over the State of Indiana out of our Indianapolis offices, we think this is a very important topic, especially around the holidays. So many toys have small parts that can become apart from the toy, be picked up by your energetic toddler and go straight into the mouth. Candy, a huge part of the holiday is small and certainly will be put straight into the child’s mouth. They swallow, the part, or the candy gets stuck, and it is a race against time to open up the airway. The lack of oxygen can kill but it can also cause brain injury, injury to the esophagus and trachea, and damage to the lungs. As mom always said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Young children put almost everything in their mouth, which makes the main goal of choking prevention to keep any small items that your child might choke on out of his mouth. This may mean occasionally getting on all fours and checking under the kitchen table and other furniture and behind coach cushions.
Know what to look for. Once you know what to look for the task is not so overwhelming. Some of the most common choking hazards include: whole grapes
• peanuts and other nuts
• hard candy and chewing gum
• hard foods, including raw vegetables
• soft foods, such as large cubes of cheese, caramels, etc.
• chewy foods, such as thick spoonfuls of peanut butter
• uncut hot dogs
• marbles and small balls
• small magnets
• small batteries
• balloons, which can be a choking hazard to kids under age eight when they put broken balloon pieces in their mouths or when they inhale intact balloons when trying to blow them up
• safety pins, pen caps, and tacks
• small toy parts that can fit inside a choke test cylinder or no-choke testing tube, which measures 1 1/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches long and simulates the size and shape of a young child’s throat, such as Lego building blocks, dice, beads, etc.
• dry pet food
Of course this does not mean that all of these items should be banned from the home, but it does mean they should not be in an area where your child, especially those crawling around on the floor, will be. Some tips include always be aware of what you are feeding your child. If it is a hotdog, make sure the dog is cut into small enough pieces that they cannot become stuck in the throat. Supervise your children’s play and avoid age inappropriate toys. If you have older children playing with smaller items, make sure the younger children are not able to get hold of the small pieces.
In addition to regularly checking the floor, your car, and other areas where your child crawls, walks, and plays, other steps to keep kids safe from choking include that you:
Learn CPR and keep emergency numbers by the phone, learn the Heimlich maneuver, keep medications and vitamins out of reach in child resistant containers, childproof cabinets and drawers so that your kids can’t get to small items inside them, supervise kids when they are eating, cut foods, like grapes and hot dogs, into small, one-half inch pieces, avoid foods that are not age appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers, like chewing gum, hard candy, and nuts until they are at least four years old, don’t let your kids play with toys that are not recommended for their age, since they may have small parts and could be a choking hazard, keep your older kids toys out of reach of younger siblings, regularly inspect toys to make sure that parts aren’t going to break off and throw out any broken toys, supervise kids under age eight if they are playing with a balloon, keep uninflated balloons out of reach, and throw away balloons once they deflate or break, see your pediatrician if your child seems to have an episode of choking, recovers, but then develops a chronic cough, since that can be a sign that your child aspirated the item and it is still in his lung, Also be sure to supervise your kids when they are outside, at someone else’s home that may not be as well childproofed as your own, or at a store, as there may be many choking hazards around that your toddler or preschooler could pick up.