ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Blog

October 29, 2018

Halloween Candy and Choking Hazards

It’s an exciting moment for kids as they eagerly check out all the goodies they scored trick-or-treating on Halloween night. But some of those candies can pose choking hazards for young children.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, based on a study in the journal Pediatrics that examined non-fatal choking on food among children 14 years old and younger:

“Hard candy accounted for 15 percent of all choking episodes, and other types of candy caused an additional 12.8%. Together, that's almost 30%. The other categories the researchers singled out were meat other than hot dogs (hot dogs are such a significant choking threat they were treated separately), which caused 12.8% of injuries, and meat bones, which caused another 12 percent.”

The blog from the author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting offers these tips to help keep the snacking safe for the smallest trick-or-treaters:

Do a candy check. Wait until you get home before letting your toddler reach into her stash of sweets. First inspect her loot for any choking hazards (the majority of Halloween treats actually fit into this category), such as hard candy, nuts, raisins, fruit snacks, gum, or anything gooey or sticky like caramel, candy corn, taffy, or marshmallows. Nonedible treats can be choking risks too, so put away any toys (like little balls or marbles) that have a diameter of 1 ¾ inches or less. Then weed out any candy with wrappers that are ripped, cut, or look tampered with, and throw out any homemade goodies from people you don’t know well. Follow the same Halloween safety tips when choosing the candy you’ll hand out at home — just in case your little one manages to dip into the stash.

Emergency Care for Choking

Choking can occur when a solid foreign object, such as a piece of food, or small object, enters a narrowed part of the airway and becomes stuck. On inhalation, the object can be drawn tighter into the airway and block air from entering the lungs. Your help is required to save the person’s life.

A forceful thrust beneath the ribs and up into the diaphragm can pressurize the air in the chest and pop an obstruction out of the airway. If choking occurs:

  • Kneel behind the child, reach around, and locate their navel.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place thumb side against the abdomen, just above the navel and below the ribs.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand.
  • Quickly thrust inward and upward into abdomen.
  • Each thrust needs to be given with the intent of expelling the object.
  • Continue until the child can breathe normally.

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