Keeping kids safe: Beware of hidden holiday choking hazards

Keeping kids safe: Beware of hidden holiday choking hazardsWith the holiday season in full swing, batteries are everywhere: toys, decorations, musical greeting cards and more. It’s very quick and easy for kids, especially crawlers and toddlers, to snatch a battery from one of these items and swallow it.

The dangers of battery ingestion

Battery ingestion, whether of the coin-sized button variety or even bigger batteries like AAAs, is potentially very dangerous. The lodged battery emits a current that can result in a severe burn to the esophagus.

Sometimes it may not even be obvious at first that there is something wrong, but parents can watch out for signs and symptoms, including:

  • Coughing/gagging
  • Drooling
  • Pain/discomfort/anxiousness
  • Vomiting and/or vomiting blood
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Bloating

Batteries are not the only choking hazards around the house this time of year. Some other common high-risk items are ornaments, tree needles and candy.

When to seek medical care

If you suspect your child has swallowed a battery or any other dangerous item, take him or her to the emergency room immediately. Do not induce vomiting or have your child eat or drink anything until medically assessed.

Call 911 right away if your child cannot breathe and his or her lips are blue. You should also call 911 if you suspect your child has swallowed something, and he or she is vomiting blood.

Watch my recent TV interview on this topic to learn more.

John Cox, MD- John Cox, MD, emergency room physician, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is a Level I pediatric trauma center, providing the best care to all injured kids. More than 60,000 patients are treated each year in our emergency room/trauma center for everything from simple cuts and broken bones to complicated, life-threatening injuries.

Learn more about John Cox, MD.



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