There are many things parents can do to eliminate child choking risks in their home:
Basic rules about choking hazards
- As a general rule, round objects are more dangerous than other shapes, since they have the ability to completely block the airway. A child who gets a rectangle Lego lodged in their throat may experience medical complications or even need invasive procedures performed, but it is less likely to completely block their airway. This doesn’t mean odd-shaped objects are safe (only safer; they can still cause damage, they still have the potential to completely obstruct the airway, and a child with 90% of their air-supply cut off may still die if not treated in time), just that you should pay special attention to objects that are more round.
- Malleable objects or those that contract and expand can be a danger in any shape.
- If you can fit an item through the center of a toilet paper tube, it’s possible for a child to choke on it. Keep this in mind as you assess the dangerous items around your house. You can also purchase a more sophisticated and accurate choke-hazard tester in child safety kits at your local grocery store or general purpose store.
Eliminating choking hazards in the home
- Keep purses off the floor and out of the reach of children, and stay vigilant whenever guests are over to monitor what they bring into the house. You can do everything under the sun to childproof your home, but many choking hazards involve objects carried into the room by people. They fall out of pockets, are dropped on the floor, are set down for just a moment, or otherwise end up in a place where baby can reach them. Set aside a special area for purses, or if you’re really ambitious, you can take a page from airport security and have people check their bag and empty their pockets into trays.
- Always monitor children around balloons, even older kids. Count balloons before use so that you can ensure they are accounted for afterwards. If a balloon pops, make sure that all the pieces are picked up. Don’t let kids chew on balloons.
- Toss all broken toys, and monitor the condition of those your kids are using.
Other choking prevention tips
- Keep toys for different age groups separate, so that it’s less likely your baby will get her hands on something dangerous that belongs to big brother. Keeping large Tupperware bins that are clearly marked can help speed clean-up time and help older kids keep their toys separated. Even if you don’t manage to keep everything completely separated (and you won’t, so don’t drop your guard), an 80% or 90% success rate can still reduce a lot of the risk.
- Never let children eat candy or suck on anything while lying down. This puts the throat at a perfect angle for the item to be accidentally swallowed, getting lodged in their throat.
- Do not give children candy while playing or engaging in other physical activities.
Choking Safety Resources for Kids:
Train your youngsters about what items pose a choking risk to little kids with our safety book, What Bigger Kids Can Do.