What are choking hazards?

Choking is a common cause of toy-related deaths. Toys, food, household items, and almost anything that can fit out children’s mouths can be choking hazards. According to the New York Department of Health:

  • Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 5
  • Toys, household items, and foods can all be a choking hazard
  • The most common cause of nonfatal choking in young children is food
  • Toy manufacturers label toys for choking hazards, and some food manufacturers voluntarily label food products as posing a potential choking risk.However, any food can present a choking risk
  • Education regarding choking risks, precautions to take in avoiding these risks, and known life-saving procedures are necessary to eliminate senseless and tragic injuries and deaths caused by choking.
  • Pediatricians, family practice physicians, health care workers, parents, grandparents, day care workers, school personnel, older children, siblings, babysitters and communities as a whole play a key role in the prevention of injuries and need to share information with caregivers to identify potential choking hazards.
  • The size of a young child’s trachea (windpipe) or breathing tube is approximately the size of a drinking straw in diameter. Imagine a piece of popcorn being lodged in this small area

What can we do about it?

Reduce Choking Risk

Look for and read age and safety labels. Any toy that is age labeled for children three years and older should be kept away from children under the age of three. Such toys may have small parts and could cause choking if placed in the mouth.

Avoid small parts or pieces at all cost. Did you know? Older toys can break to reveal parts small enough to be swallowed or to become lodged in our child’s windpipe, ears or nose. The CPSC bans small parts in new toys intended for children under three. This includes removable small eyes and noses on stuffed toys and dolls, including small, removable squeakers on squeeze toys.

Reduce Strangulation Risk

Toys or clothes with long strings or cords may be dangerous for our infants and very young children. The cords may become wrapped around our infant’s neck, causing strangulation. We must remember to NEVER hang toys with long strings, cords, loops, or ribbons in cribs or playpens where our children can become entangled.

Remove crib gyms from the crib when the child can pull up on hands and knees. Some children have strangled when they fell across crib gyms stretched across the crib.

General Toy Safety

Let’s make it a conscious habit to keep toys intended for older children away from younger children.

Do check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Identify damaged or dangerous toys, they should be repaired or thrown away immediately.

It is crucial to store toys safely. It will be beneficial for our children to learn how to put toys away after playing. This will prevent tripping hazards. As part of safe storage, do check toy boxes and shelves for safety.

Read more about prioritizing our children’s well being and toy safety: Toy Safety Guide

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