My seven year old couldn't die right here, right now in this beach parking lot, wearing only her bathing suit, with a Dots candy lodged in her throat and four more clenched in her sweaty fist. Could she?
There's a surreal quality to the terrifying moment when you realize that, yes, your child could die right in front of your eyes, right in front of all those people standing there watching you, all with concerned looks on their faces, cell phones poised, as you try to remember what to do first when a child is choking.
Lucky for us, a confident superhero type stepped in. (There's much more to the story over here.) When it was over, and that evil, soft, yellow candy throat plug lay in a puddle of spit on the blacktop, Isla could speak again and Esther had calmed down, we sat in the open back of the car and hugged and laughed nervously.
"Death to Dots!"
Then we got in the car and headed home as if nothing had happened. Life goes on. Yet nobody spoke. My mind returned to that place, that moment when I felt a complete absence of control over life and death. And I wept, silent hot tears, the entire 20 miles back to our house.
We avoided the emergency room. But the average annual number of emergency room visits by children choking on food is more than 12,300. That's equivalent to 34 nonfatal choking ER visits per day. Sixty-two percent of those choking episodes occur in children under four.
Keep reading to see the food that most kids choke on — you'll be surprised!
Of all the foods kids are prone to choke on, the most common choking hazard, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, is hard candy.
After that comes soft candy, meat, and bone. Beyond those top four, the list of foods most likely to cause choking includes fruits and vegetables, milk, nuts and seeds, pretzels and popcorn, cookies and crackers, and hot dogs.
The study's author, Ohio State University researcher, Dr. Gary Smith, thinks parents and caregivers and food manufacturers could all be more vigilant. According to this article Smith wonders why foods aren't held to the same regulatory safety and labeling standards as toys.
"We've done a great deal to prevent choking on toys with laws and regulations, and a very good data surveillance system to monitor injuries, but we have done none of that to prevent choking on food, even though kids are more likely to choke on food than a toy."
Smith also mentions food redesign, such as safety lollipops, as a means of prevention. If they redesigned Dots, they wouldn't be Dots anymore.
Watching little kids eat solid foods is one of the more agonizing parts of parenting. But who worries about a grade-school kid choking? Lesson learned: Just because they're not babies doesn't mean they can't choke.
Can we actively prevent every choking incident? I think not. But we could possibly stand to add a few more ounces of prevention. Awareness, and a bit of choking first-aid knowledge, is a good start.
At this point, I'm thinking kids should all stick to liquids until they get to college.
More great reads from BabyCenter:
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