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Safe this spring and beyond: Prevent choking with awareness of these four types of hidden hazards

Spring brings opportunities for more outdoor play, with seasonal activities, new foods and nature-based play. Oklahoma’s youngest learners benefit from variety in their daily routines in safe, supervised settings, including preschool, child care centers and at home.

As spring lesson plans and ideas for toddler play come together, beware of common items identified as choking hazards likely to turn up this time of year. Choking is the leading cause of accidental death in infants and the fourth leading cause of death in preschool children, according to the National Institute of Health. Although safety is key throughout the year, the change of season is a good time to reassess related daily practices and response procedures.

Choking hazards can include these household items:

  • Small objects, including balls and batteries: Balls and miscellaneous small parts tend to turn up in children’s toyboxes and board games. Keep an eye out for small pieces, including marbles, coins and pill batteries, which can also cause blockages and chemical poisoning in the digestive tract. Items less than 1 ¼ inches in diameter and 2 ¼ inches in length should not be part of play without direct supervision. Find more detailed guidance at

  • Plastic Easter eggs: Holiday decorations often include small objects that can become easily detached. Plastic Easter eggs, including the separated halves that snap together, may fit inside a child’s mouth, with their slippery plastic and bright colors that can be confused for candy. Keep objects out of reach of young children and watch children as they play within a central setting. Avoid separating toddlers from the group.

  • Balloons: Uninflated latex balloons and pieces of popped balloons are considered choking hazards. State licensing standards prohibit inflated balloons, too.

  • Specific foods: Hot dogs, nuts and seeds, whole grapes, candy and popcorn top the list of foods proven to be choking hazards for young children. See an extensive list here, along with how small to cut foods like meat and raw vegetables. Avoid sticky seasonal candies like jelly beans and taffy. All snacks and meals should take place with an adult present.

Avoiding small objects in child care settings and having consistent supervision from attentive adults are the main ways to prevent choking.

Knowing how to respond in the event of an emergency is essential and all personnel working in child care settings are required to be CPR and first aid-certified. Courses are offered at Rainbow Fleet on the third Saturday of each month. Find more information and register today. Train your staff on center-specific procedures, including the protocol of one adult calling 9-1-1 while the other begins emergency aid. If you have questions about additional resources for caregivers, reach out to our resource and referral staff.


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