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What You Need To Know about Choking Hazards
Choking happens when an object blocks your child’s airway and prevents enough oxygen from getting to the lungs and brain. If the brain is without oxygen for over 4 minutes it is likely that brain damage or death may occur. It is one of the most common causes of death amongst children worldwide and should be watched out for. Especially in very small children and toddlers around the age of 2.

You will usually be able to pick up that someone is choking when they clutch their throat and seem short of breath. Most people, big or small, will instinctively clutch at their throat if their airway is blocked. If a child has been choking for a while, they will start to turn blue around the mouth and will eventually lose consciousness. It is extremely important that you do not allow the situation to get this far as this will increase the risk of brain damage and death.

Top Choking Hazards
It is important to remember that a child could choke on just about anything. Be sure to always keep a firm eye on your child and monitor what they put in their mouths. This list allows for the most common choking hazards.

  • Chunks of meat or cheese
  • Vienna’s and Sausages
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Litchi pips
  • Whole grapes, berries and raisins
  • Uncooked vegetables
  • Hard, sticky candy
  • Hard sweets
  • Popcorn
  • Chunks of peanut butter
  • Chewing gum
  • Running, walking or lying down whilst eating
  • Latex balloons – these cause more death in children than any other toy
  • Any material that is pliable and can take the shape of a child’s airway like soft plastic, latex or disposable nappy stuffing are a serious choking hazard as they are very difficult to dislodge
  • Toys with small parts or broken bits of toys
  • Marbles and small balls such as bouncing balls
  • Coins
  • Pen caps
  • Small watch or button type batteries
  • Medicine syringes
  • Buttons

What to Do
It is essential that you or anyone else who is involved in the care of your child is trained in First Aid so that if you are faced with a choking situation you will know exactly what to do. There are many companies and institutions that offer first aid courses for parents and childcare workers. We highly recommend that you attend one of these. Have a look at our First Aid Basics section for more information.

Final Word
When it comes to the health and safety of your little one do not take any chances. Choking can be fatal, so make sure that you take every precaution to prevent it happening to your child. This means keeping all possible hazards out of their reach and ensuring that anyone who will be caring for your child is well versed in handling emergency situations should they arise.

We also suggest that you print out this document and hand it to your child’s caregiver so they are aware of the dangers of choking.

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