Choking Hazards for Kids & Adults

by Alli

Today is the last day of  Baby Safety Month, so I thought it fitting to share this information in order to help keep babies, children and adults safe!

Have you ever been eating and swallowed a big chunk of food and it got stuck in your throat?  It’s a horrible feeling!

[Tweet “Each year, more than 2,800 people, mostly children, choke to death.”]

I have three major choking stories that pushed me to write this post:

1.  We were on the way to church one Sunday morning when daughter #2, a preschooler at the time, choked on a peppermint disk.  We had to pull over on the side of the road, grab her out of the car seat and perform the Heimlich maneuver.  It seemed like time stood still and afterwards I was shaking in my shoes.

 Find out the proper way to perform the Heimlich here!  If you’re alone and are choking, you can self-administer the Heimlich!  Here’s how!

Heimlich Maneuver on Infants

2.  A few years later, when that same daughter was elementary age,  (what’s up with her???) she choked on a piece of hard candy during Sunday School and once again, I performed the Heimlich maneuver.  Her lips had turned purple and I was about to go into panic mode when that hard candy finally dislodged and landed in the floor.

I think I should get a Heimlich maneuver award because I have that thing down pat.

Because of those two incidents, my daughter does not allow her children to eat hard candy disks.

3.  Fast forward a couple dozen years to a night in Ft. Lauderdale.  My husband and I had deposited daughter #3 in FL so she could attend makeup artistry school.

That evening, we treated ourselves to my favorite food, sushi, at a cool Ft. Lauderdale restaurant for dinner and then headed home (long drive) immediately afterwards.  My husband likes to drive at night while I snooze away.

While I was eating sushi,  all of a sudden it felt like I was choking and I kept clearing my throat and coughing.   I told my husband that it felt like I had something stuck in my throat.

Finally,  after we had eased on down the road a bit, I was still coughing, but breathing fine and (this part is gross) I finally stuck my finger down my throat and felt a bone (from the raw fish in the sushi) stuck in my tonsil!  I’m serious!  You can’t make this stuff up!

I asked my husband to stop and buy a pair of tweezers and a mirror.  I was going to try to remove it myself.  Yeah.  Uh huh,  Dr. Alli.  That did not work.

After we had crossed over into South Carolina (yes, I had battled that bone for a while) and I realized the bone was not going anywhere, we stopped at the first emergency room we could find.  My throat was numbed and the Dr. removed the bone with a long pair of tweezers.  That was after everyone who worked in that small hospital came to see the woman with a sushi bone stuck in her tonsil.

The emergency room Dr. gave me the bone to take home in a little bottle so that I could prove to my children that it really happened.

That’s a funny story (now), but choking is no laughing matter!  As I was thinking about all the choking episodes I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, I knew I had to issue a warning about choking hazards for kids & adults.  Here goes!

1.  Nuts, Popcorn & Grapes

When my children were small, I would always cut grapes in half.  Anything that you tend to eat by the handfuls (nuts or popcorn) can become a choking hazard.  Slow down, don’t gobble.  Chew that food!

According to experts at Ohio State University, we should chew soft foods 5-10 times before swallowing and more dense foods (meats and veggies) up to 30 times before swallowing!  I really need to slow down!

2.  Foods with Small Diameters

Hot dogs, carrots and string cheese sticks are the perfect size to get stuck in a child’s throat.  When I give a hot dog to a toddler I slice it in half length wise and then into small, bite sized portions.

3.  Foods with Chewy Textures

Peanut Butter is the first food that comes to mind.  It’s best eaten in a sandwich and not by the spoonfuls (note to self).  Steak and meat, in general, is another food that adults get choked on, especially if it’s overcooked or a thick cut.  Again, cut into small pieces and chew that food!

3.  Small Toys and Balloons

In my opinion, small children and latex balloons don’t mix!  Small and/or popped balloons can be ingested,  get sucked into the airway and are nearly impossible to remove.

Plastic wrap and cellophane pose the same threat.

[Tweet “Balloons cause more choking deaths in children than any other nonfood product”]

It can be a challenge to keep small toys away from toddlers, especially when you have older children.  Keep small toys like Legos, etc. in bins with secure lids.

You can find age appropriate toys here!

4.  Dishwasher Tabs

I was saddened when I read about all the children that have died from ingesting dishwasher pods!  It’s not so much a choking hazard as it is a toxic thing.  It’s bright and pretty and tots can mistake it for candy.

Because I don’t have small children, I’ve always kept my pods in a container under the kitchen sink.  After hearing about a toddler dying from trying to eat a dishwasher tab, I now keep them on the top shelf in an upper cabinet.

We can’t follow our kids around 24/7, nor should we be overprotective, but I do believe we should be educated so that we can do what we can to make our homes a safe environment.

I suggest that all parents learn how to properly administer the Heimlich.

Remember, if you’re alone and are choking, you can self-administer the Heimlich!  Here’s how!

What are some choking hazards that I’ve missed?  Have you ever choked on a bone or had to perform the Heimlich?