Children are always curious about everything around them. And the only way they know of checking a certain object that intrigues them is to swallow it. While many objects don’t make it through to the end of their oral cavities, others can. These can then get stuck and cause choking in children. The recent video of officers helping a choking baby in a mall recently went viral and almost everyone with a social media account has seen it. It is one of the best examples of how real the hazards of choking in children are.
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Choking Hazards for children
Choking hazards in children are very real. When children are between the ages 3 and 14, parents have to be extra careful around their kids to make sure that they don’t swallow anything that they are not meant to. This is because of the fact that their abdominal and oral cavities are not developed well enough to help them swallow almost everything that they ingest. Children are extremely fond of checking so each and everything, be it sand, plastic toys, food, etc., end up in their mouth and they try to swallow it. While parents take considerable care to discourage this habit, it is a habit that exists within children of this age.
Some statistics for choking in children
It is estimated that every 5 days, one child dies from choking, making it the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children. According to estimates released by the Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, 60% of all non-fatal choking is a result of non-food items and 31% is a result of non-food related choking. The incidence of choking is highest in children under three years of age. Moreover, adult cough is powerful enough to dislodge any foreign objects that might get trapped in their airways, while children’s cough doesn’t have that pressure or force.
Elements that give rise to these hazards
Choking hazards can emerge from two different kinds of products. These are food-related or non-food-related. There might be other categories, but they are the most common ones:
Children have underdeveloped airways and food passages because of which it is difficult for them to swallow larger foods. Moreover, their teeth are not formed properly, which means that they can’t break down bigger food particles like adults can. This is why even normal foods that might not be considered dangerous like fruits and vegetables can become harmful to children. Examples of such things include fruits like grapes and strawberries, popcorns, sausages, and certain chips or crackers. Some of these foods are on their own inappropriate for children under a certain age. but others are consumable if they are fed under adult supervision.
The more serious risk of choking in children comes from non-food items. Kids have a tendency or innate habit of using taste to verify any intriguing object. This leads to a lot of stuff ending up in their mouths. Since food is ultimately meant to go down that passage, it might not pose as much of a threat as non-food items. The elements that a child can swallow and choke on include marbles, coins, balloons, batteries, play dough, and the like.
Legislation to protect children against choking
There are a number of laws and regulations already in place to help protect and warn parents against products that children can potentially choke on. These legislations include:
- The Federal Hazardous Substance Act includes a test for small parts to ensure that they are not accessible to children for swallowing,
- The Child Safety Protection Act bans any toys, which can cause a danger of ingestion or choking in children, for children under three years. It also mandates toy makers to print choking hazard labels on packets of balloons, marbles, certain games and any other objects with the potential to cause choking,
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requires choking hazard warning labels on all printed marketing materials that can lead to a direct sale of items with small parts.
Responsibilities of parents
Of course, choking hazard warning labels are not for children. They are for parents to realize that a certain product has potential parts that might result in choking if not used properly. As a result, the bulk of the responsibility for preventing such accidents falls on the parent. Here are a few things that parents can do in order to prevent choking accidents in children:
- Ensure supervision during meal and playtimes. Children can swallow toys, batteries, and even sand from playhouses. This can result in catastrophic consequences which is why parents or guardians should ensure that children between the ages of 3 and 14 should not be left unsupervised during meal times and play times,
- Breaking down large food particles. Depending on the age of the child, parents should break down larger items into smaller pieces. Foods like grapes, carrots, popcorn, crackers, etc., can all be chopped or moistened to make them more easily digestible for children,
- Evaluate your child’s toys and make sure that all the games that have a potential to cause choking are kept out of their reach. These toys should only be given to them when adult supervision can be maintained.
If Your Child Was Injured, Call An Attorney Today
There are a number of cases where manufacturer negligence or disregard of rules can bring them under the scrutiny of the law when it comes to choking accidents. If a manufacturer fails to print warning labels on their products or the marketing materials, they are liable to face legal action. At Shiner Law Group, our seasoned attorneys can further elaborate the cases under which it is possible for a manufacturer or other parties to be held responsible for a choking accident.
It is important to make sure that an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney is contracted for consultation in the event of a choking accident that happens with your child. While it might not certainly be the responsibility of a manufacturer, at times it can be, and this makes you entitled to damages and compensation.