Suffocation, Strangling, and Choking

Print pagePDF page

Each year hundreds of people die after choking on food or other small items. Most deaths involve infants, toddlers, and the elderly.

Tips to prevent choking and suffocation

  • Learn how to use the Heimlich maneuver to remove something stuck in a person’s throat.
  • Keep small objects away from toddlers. Anything that is small enough to pass through a toilet paper tube is a choking hazard.
  • Place infants on their backs to sleep. Use a firm crib mattress and avoid soft bedding.
  • Cut the ends of drape and blind cords. Use cord wind ups, tie downs or call 1-800-506-4636 for a free repair kit.
  • Remove drawstrings from children’s clothing.
  • Don’t serve foods that are hard to chew. Toddlers and some older people have trouble chewing and swallowing foods. Cut fruits and vegetables, hot dogs, and other hard foods into bite-sized pieces.
  • Remove doors before throwing out old appliances.
  • Keep plastic bags away from children. A thin plastic bag can suffocate a child.
  • Keep empty balloons and balloon pieces away from small children.

Source: Wisconsin Department of Health Services