Image of a toddler.

Prevent Choking & Suffocation

In adults, choking usually occurs when food is not chewed properly. The risk increases with talking or laughing while eating, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or having a condition that impairs chewing or swallowing. In young adults, choking can result from playing the “choking game.” With this, the person uses a rope or belt to cut off blood and oxygen to the brain for a brief “high.”

 

Learn first aid for choking for babies, children, and adults from your local Red Cross. Find a class in your area at www.redcross.org or call 800.733.2767 (800.RED.CROSS).

Do This, Not That

Choking and suffocation can occur at any age, but is more common in babies and toddlers. Choking is the 4th leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 5. At least 1 child dies from choking on food every 5 days in the U.S. Common foods and other items children choke on include:

• Bubble gum and other types of gum

• Peanuts, other nuts, and popcorn

• Peanut butter (especially from a  spoon or with soft white bread)

• Whole grapes and foods with pits, such as cherries

• Hot dogs (whole or cut into round pieces)

• Hard candy and cough drops

• Balloons, button-type batteries, small toy parts, marbles, coins, and safety pins.

ADULTS

CHILDREN

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.

 

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