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Working at Home? Watch Out for These Hidden Dangers

By: Bonnie Fachler, Owner of Home Safe Home Childproofing, LLC

As we all know, children love to explore their environment. They also love to put things in their mouths—and we’re not talking about food!

What do magnets, batteries, coins, and clips all share in common? They are household objects, and they are all baby choking hazards.

Even if we try to watch them at all times, accidents can and will happen, and watching a child choking can be one of the scariest moments in a parent’s life. 

Remember, since children of 2 years or younger have a smaller esophagus, they are at higher risk for objects getting stuck. If an object is larger than 1 inch (about the size of a quarter), it may get stuck in your child’s throat.

Here are some things to look out for and some tips for how to react and respond to keep your baby or child safe from choking.

What can kids choke on?

The two highest-risk items are button batteries and magnets.

  • Button Batteries- Button batteries are found in many toys, key FOBS, and TV remote controls. If swallowed, they can cause low voltage burns within 2 hours if stuck in the throat. A battery burn can lead to an actual puncture in this. Even “dead” batteries can be harmful if swallowed.
  • Magnets- The ingestion of multiple magnets is harmful in children because it can cause intestinal obstruction and/or perforation requiring surgery. Unfortunately, cases of magnet ingestion have increased threefold over the last decade owing to increased production of magnetic toys.
  • Source: Y.Han, J.K. Youn, C.Oh, et al, Ingestion of multiple magnets in children, Journal of Pediatric Surgery, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpedsurg2019.11.021

What else can kids choke on? 

  • Sharp or pointed objects- Needles, pins, pine cones, nails, tacks, screws, toothpicks, earrings, aluminum pull tabs, etc. Most of these will require urgent removal to prevent a puncture in the digestive tract.
  • Small blunt objects- Toy parts, small buttons, rings, paper clips, teeth, etc. These objects normally pass through and come out in the bowels within a few days. If not, contact your pediatrician.

Symptoms your child has swallowed something

Your child may experience:

  • trouble swallowing
  • throat, neck, stomach, or chest pain
  • gagging, vomiting, drooling or spitting
  • having no appetite or not wanting to eat
  • abdominal pain, nausea, & vomiting

If any of the above symptoms occur, go to the Emergency Room immediately and call your pediatrician.

What should you do if you suspect your child swallowed something?

National Capital Center Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222

National Battery Ingestion Hotline: 1-800-498-8666

If any of the above symptoms occur, go to the Emergency Room immediately and call your pediatrician.

What can you do to prevent choking in the home?

An ounce of prevention is the best course of action to avoid these accidental ingestions. Here are some positive steps you can take:

  1. Share this
  2. Don’t buy magnetic toys for children under 3 years of age
  3. Keep “shiny” objects and old or broken toys out of reach of your child
  4. Visit saferproducts.gov to report injuries related to magnet ingestions or other products
  5. Go to CPSC.com for updated recall lists on toys and children’s products in your home or child’s nursery school
  1. Hire a professional child proofer to evaluate your home for safety risks and install equipment that reduces the chances of infant or child choking (childproofingpro.com)
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