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?




Carmody September 30, 2014 - 8:26 am

Alli… wow! That daughter should be banned from eating candy. Great article. I participated in a doughnut eating contest at a sleepover in elementary school. Yes, you guessed it. I choked and had the heimlich done one me. Scary moment.

Alli September 30, 2014 - 9:02 am

It is a scary feeling! And, yes, she was banned from candy!

Zan September 30, 2014 - 9:04 am

Great post Alli. I had bones stuck in my throat before – i firmly believe hubby is not a fan of bonny meats for the same reason (that it may get stuck in his throat)!

Alli September 30, 2014 - 11:05 am

I’m not a fan of meat with bones, either, especially fish and especially after my tonsil ordeal!

Paris (My Big Fat Happy Life) September 30, 2014 - 9:14 am

That is so scary as a parent! I remember one time my brother chocking on a penny and my mom having to do the Heimlich on him.

Alli September 30, 2014 - 11:03 am

It’s a scary thing! Even when I see a child choking in a restaurant, I almost jump up and run over to their table before the parent has a chance to do anything.

Kita September 30, 2014 - 9:21 am

Those dishwasher tabs I was hurt by that they do look like candy. I still cut my kids food up as much as possible my son who is 8 hates it but I worry and I don’t know the Heimlich maneuver which is something I need to learn.

Alli September 30, 2014 - 11:02 am

It is so sad about those dishwasher pods! And I feel so sorry for the parents that are probably beating themselves up for not having them put away in a safe place, but they just didn’t know. I sure didn’t.

Louida September 30, 2014 - 10:37 am

When my daughters were babies I would cut up their food too. I haven’t had an episode of choking with either one of my daughters, maybe once or twice. I really need to learn the heimlich maneuver because it’s better to be safe then sorry.

Alli September 30, 2014 - 11:01 am

Yes, Louida, everyone should learn that maneuver. I’ve even heard of people choking in restaurants and someone using the Heimlich to save their lives.

Heather September 30, 2014 - 10:54 am

Great post Alli! My hubby and I don’t have children yet but we do have a small (9 lbs or so) dog that we have to keep an eye on choking on small objects. This is some great information

Alli September 30, 2014 - 11:00 am

Thanks for reminding me about dogs, too! One day I realized my dog was playing with a small ball that belonged to my grands. It was small enough to get lodged in his throat. I had to wrestle it away from him (German Shepard), but breathed a sigh of relief that he didn’t choke on it. Great reminder!

Julie September 30, 2014 - 11:02 am

Oh my, scary. But these are great things to keep in mind. Especially the slow down when eating. It is so easy to inhale something down the wrong way.

Leilani September 30, 2014 - 11:30 am

Great tips. I also have a son who is more prone to choking. He’s the oldest, but he still can’t have chewy candy or hard candy. He’s never actually official choked, he’s always been able to cough it up on his own but it’s still terrifying watching it happen and rushing to him thinking I’ll have to perform the heimlich.

Cindy Brooks September 30, 2014 - 4:14 pm

Such a great post! We had the peppermint incident with our grandson when he was almost 5. My husband did the Heimlich and out it came. After that I did some research and learned about the choking hazards of all the things you’ve mentioned. Everyone should know this information! I came very close to having the Heimlich done on me when I choked on a burger. I was signalling to my husband that I couldn’t breath as I felt myself starting to pass out. He was putting his arms around me just as it dislodged on it’s own. Very scary!

Alli September 30, 2014 - 9:07 pm

It is very scary to see someone choking and to be the one choking. I’ve been trying to really chew my food more than usual.

Ricki @ The Questionable Homesteader September 30, 2014 - 11:24 pm

Oh my, peanut butter. I never would have thought, I’m bad for eating it by the spoonful.
Some great tips, I’ll have to remember these tips.

Alli October 1, 2014 - 5:58 am

I guess it’s because peanut butter is so thick, especially for kids. It’s one of my fave foods and I, too, eat it by the spoonful.

Shirley Wood October 1, 2014 - 5:50 pm

Yes, you do deserve an award! My daughter never lets her children eat hard candy, they have to get it over at Grandma’s house. I’m probably not going to give it to them anymore after reading this though. Very good info. Pinning!

Alli October 1, 2014 - 10:18 pm

I usually break the hard candy up into tiny pieces, but sometimes I accidentally pulverize them! 🙂


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