Public Safety Reminder from the Chief Coroner for Ontario
Dr. Andrew McCallum, Chief Coroner for Ontario would like to
remind all Ontarians of choking dangers that some foods pose to children.
While most people are generally well aware of the danger that objects such as balloons, batteries, coins and small toys with removable parts pose to children, food is sometimes not recognized as a hazard.
Younger children, especially those under the age of 4 years are particularly vulnerable as they are still developing safe eating habits, have small airways, have poor chewing and swallowing habits and often don't understand the dangers associated with consuming food.
The following are examples of some of the foods that should be avoided when children are 4 years of age and under:
- Hot Dogs/Sausages
- Hard or rubbery candies
- Raw carrots, peas and celery
- Seeds (watermelon, sunflower)
- Popcorn, especially when there may be unpopped kernels
- Fruit with pits
- Hard fruits (apples, pears)
With children under the age of 4 years, foods should be cut into smaller pieces to minimize the risk of an airway obstruction. Foods such as grapes and hot dogs are of particular concern so these should be cut lengthwise into smaller pieces.
Learning to eat safely is a life skill. Parents and caregivers of children are reminded of the following tips when teaching children to eat safely:
- Children should sit quietly when eating - running or jumping may increase the risk of airway obstruction.
- Teach children to take small bites and chew thoroughly before swallowing.
- Talking and laughing should always be avoided when there is food in a child's mouth.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to take a basic cardiac life support or life saving course. Courses are offered by organizations such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Red Cross, the Lifesaving Society, and St. John's Ambulance.