Choking / Suffocation Safety Tips

Richland Hospital Health & Safety Tips – Choking / Suffocation

Infant sleeping in a crib with closely spaced slats.

Choking / Suffocation Facts

  • Choking is most common among children younger than 4 years of age, with the peak occurring in the first year.
  • Round, firm food products (e.g., pieces of hot dog, candy, nuts, raw vegetable, grapes) are the most common airway-blocking agents in early childhood.
  • Another choking hazard are small objects like round or pliable toys (e.g., small balls, uninflated balloons), pop tops, safety pins, and coins.
  • Older children and adults usually choke on meat.
  • Suffocation can occur when the child is trapped in an airtight space or when the child’s airway is constricted from the crib outside, as in hanging.
  • Crib strangulation occurs when the baby’s small body slips between the bars and the head, too large to follow, is trapped. Slat spacing for cribs should be 2 3/8 inches or less to prevent this. Old cribs must be measured to assure slat spacing is safe.
  • Children are also suffocated inadvertently;
    • In drapery, toy or clothing cords.
    • When lids fall on them as they peer inside a toy chest.
    • When they are trapped between the frame and mattress of a bed or in the folds of a mesh play pen.
    • When their nose and mouth are covered in a pillow, bean bag, or waterbed.
    • When, unattended, they slip out of a high chair.
    • Inside plastic bags.

Choking / Suffocation Prevention Tips

  • Learn what to do if your child chokes.
  • Avoid food and nonfood objects on which children are likely to choke.
  • Avoid cords in children’s environments which pose a hanging risk.
  • Purchase age appropriate toys so that toys for young children do not have small parts.
  • Ensure a safe sleeping environment for infants (e.g., crib slat space no more than 2-3/8 inches, no soft enveloping surfaces).
  • Avoiding entrapment hazards (old refrigerators, plastic bags, grain bins, etc.).

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