Choking Hazards | Important Alert for parents on popular snacks – Popcorn and Marshmellows
Hey there, parents! We all know how much our little ones light up when they see their favorite snacks and we get you! It warms our hearts to see them happy, but amidst all the fun, let’s not forget the most important thing: your child’s safety. There have been several cases during the past couple of months on choking hazards especially among kids below the age of 9 and it is high time parents are warned about these choking risks.
In this article, we’re going to talk about why it’s important to be cautious when giving our kids popcorn and marshmallows, even if they absolutely love them. Let’s have a look at some of the safety concerns and some practical tips to make sure our kids can enjoy these treats without it hurting their health and well-being.
Here’s why it can potentially lead to choking:
Popcorn kernels are small, hard, and round, making them easy for children to swallow whole. When a child attempts to eat popcorn without fully chewing it, the kernels can become lodged in their throat, leading to choking. The Royal Children’s Hospital has identified popcorn as a dangerous food to young children as it can also easily be inhaled blocking the breathing tubes.
Not all popcorn kernels pop, and some may remain hard and uncooked even after popping. These unpopped kernels are especially dangerous, as they can be extremely hard and can cause injury if swallowed.
Marshmallows are soft and squishy, which might not seem like a choking hazard at first. However, their consistency can become problematic if they are not chewed thoroughly. Marshmallows can compress and stick together in a child’s throat, increasing the risk of choking.
They can expand when they come into contact with saliva or other fluids in the mouth. This can further increase the risk of a piece getting lodged in a child’s airway.
“Traditional-sized marshmallows are that perfect size to lodge in a child’s oesophagus,” stated by KidsSafe CEO Holly Fitzgerald.
Niki Yurkut, a former paramedic associated with Tiny Hearts Education in Australia, strongly advises against giving marshmallows to children under the age of 5 due to significant choking hazards. Recently, Niki Yurkutz explained that the round shaped marshmallows are capable of completely blocking the little one’s airway.
She also points out that marshmallows get even stickier and more challenging to swallow or remove from the airways when they are wet (When chewing). Using a clear plastic tube, Yurkutz effectively demonstrates how a marshmallow can obstruct a child’s breathing, giving us a real life look at what could happen.
What can you do to avoid such hazards?
- Always keep a close eye on when they’re snacking on popcorn or marshmallows. Make sure they’re eating slowly and chewing properly.
- Yurkutz suggests that parents should either cut large marshmallows into smaller pieces or consider using mini marshmallows as a safer option.
- If your kids are very young, it might be best to avoid these snacks altogether. Go for softer and safer options until they’re older.
- Teach your kids to take their time and chew their food properly. Rushing through snacks, especially those that can be tricky like these, isn’t a good idea.
- It’s always best for parents and caregivers to have basic knowledge of first aid, including how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a choking child, in case of an emergency.
Here’s what you need to do if a child is choking:
- Firstly, if the child is choking and finding it difficult to breathe, gently place them on the floor.
- Now, use just two fingers and give the child five rapid chest compressions. Aim for the lower third of their breastbone.
- Alternate between back blows and chest thrusts until you see that emergency medical services (EMS) are on their way
- Please DO NOT hesitate to call 000 immediately when a child is choking. Your quick action can make a lifesaving difference.
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