Choking is the number one cause of death in children three and under according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. While about half of all choking accidents are due to food, many children die from choking on small items found around the house. The Consumer Products Safety Commission requires age recommendations on toys and requires manufacturers to list choking hazards on packaging. However, your child may explore more than just the toys around your house. Gadgets and accessories may pose a choking threat to your child. Once you are aware of the danger, you can keep these gadgets away from your child, eliminating the threat.
1. Button Batteries
According to Safe Kids International, more than 2,800 children visit the emergency room every year after ingesting button batteries. Most people associate button batteries with hearing aids, but they power much more than grandma’s hearing. These compact batteries are commonly used in small hand-held gadgets such as laser pens, light-up novelties, key chain remotes and even musical birthday cards and books. Be sure to keep any small item that makes sound or light out of reach of your child. Check any battery compartment on your child’s toys to make sure that they are tightly closed and securely locked or screwed in place.
2. Computer Gadgets
While you may look at the desktop or laptop computer and think that you are safe, you may be wrong. There are plenty of things around the computer that may pose a choking hazard to young children. If your keyboard or mouse is wireless, you probably have a small dongle plugged into your USB port that may easily be swallowed or pose a choking hazard. In addition, thumb drives and their covers are the perfect size for little mouths. If you think the mouse or keyboard is too big to be a hazard, think again. Little ones can break these items and create choking hazards. It is easy to pull keys off many brands of keyboards and swallow or choke on them. Even dropping the mouse on the floor can give your child many small pieces of plastic to choke on.
3. Tablets and Phones
Many parents are quick to hand over a tablet or phone to little ones. The programs keep kids entertained and teach them basic skills. However, it is important that your child uses these items under your close supervision as there are many choking hazards that go with tablets and phones. Many earphones have small plastic or foam plugs around the speakers that fit in the ears. If you use a stylus, beware of the plastic or rubber point that may fall off and pose a choking hazard.
4. Staying Safe
The fact is, most technical gadgets aren’t designed with very young children in mind. It is important to only allow tots to use these gadgets under close adult supervision. The CPSC requires labels to let you know the ages that may use the item safely. These will help you decide if a gadget is right for your child. There are even gadgets to help you decide if a gadget is safe. The CPSC recommends a small part safety tube. This clear plastic tube is 2 1/4 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide. Any part of any gadget that fits inside this tube is a hazard to young children. If you can’t find the tube, try using the cardboard cylinder from an empty toilet paper roll. Like the clear plastic tube, anything that fits inside the cardboard tube should be kept from young children. While it is slightly longer and wider it will help you err on the side of safety when it comes to your child.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement—Prevention of Choking Among Children
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: CPSC Warns Parents About Choking Hazards to Young Children, Announces New Recall of Toys Posing Choking Hazards
- Safe Kids: Batteries
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: Small Parts: What Every Parent Needs to Know
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images