MORE than 350 a year in the UK die from choking, according to a new report.

And every day in the UK, around 40 children under the age of five are rushed into hospital after choking or swallowing something dangerous.

The report, published by health and safety body CE Safety, lays out the risks and potential consequences of a range of choking hazards for youngsters.

According to St Johns Ambulance, 40 per cent of parents have witnessed their own baby choke and almost four-fifths don’t know what to do in this situation.

Hot dogs are a huge risk factor to children. Research suggests they are the top cause of food-related choking in children under the age of three, with 17 per cent of cases caused by hot dog inhalation.

CE Safety have revealed a list of 12 items, other than hot items, which you should be most cautious of.

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(Picture: CE Safety)

Health and Safety trainer at CE Safety, Gary Ellis, explained the risks of these foods.


Hard and crunchy foods can easily get stuck in your child's throat. Un-popped corn kernels are incredibly hard and can easily become lodged in airways; plus other food products can stick to popcorn and create a larger block of the airway.

Hard boiled sweets:

Hard sweets risk becoming trapped in your child's airway and do not melt or dissolve when lodged. Anything of this texture should be avoided.

White bread:

One of the lesser known choking hazards - white bread often forms large pasty textures in the back of your child's throat and can quickly become stuck, causing breathing difficulties and, potentially, choking.

Crackers or rice cakes:

Foods with coarse textures can be extremely dangerous to young children, particularly dry foods that can't be easily broken down. Crackers and rice cakes have hard edges that can also scratch and damage the inside of your child's throat.

Nuts and seeds:

If children haven't had their molars through, their ability to grind down food can be completely impaired. Any small, hard foods such as nuts and seeds should be avoided at all costs.

Chunks of cheese:

Even if the cheese has been cut into small chunks, they still pose a choking hazard. Due to its hard texture, cheese can easily become wedged in the back of a child's throat, blocking their airway.

Whole grapes:

Doctors' have issued stark warnings about grapes after numerous unfortunate choking deaths in the last few years. The size and shape of grapes means that they can completely plug children’s airways, with the tight seal produced by fruit’s smooth, flexible surface making them tricky to shift with first aid manoeuvres. Try cutting them in half before giving them to your child.

Raw vegetables:

Round and hard foods are extremely dangerous for young children – pieces of raw carrot, celery and broccoli can be easily lodged in the back of their throat, blocking airways.

Chewing gum:

Gum presents a huge risk, as the sticky texture and frequent chewing motion means children often get it stuck in the back of their throat. Some children may be tempted to swallow, which leads to the gum blocking their windpipe.


Although soft in texture, marshmallows can often glob together and expand in the throat - a high choking risk. If left unsupervised for a matter of seconds, children can also be tempted to put the whole thing in their mouth, blocking their airways entirely.

Fruit (particularly apples):

Apples, particularly the skin, pose a huge risk to children as they can easily become stuck in the back of their throat and the skin is airtight. It’s also worth avoiding fruit with seeds such as watermelons, oranges and cherries

Chicken with bone:

Bones are incredibly harmful to children if they become wedged, but unfortunately they can be hidden in boneless meats - always check thoroughly before giving any meat to your child.

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(Picture: CE Safety)

What should I do if a baby (under one) is choking?

  1. Assess the situation as fast as possible; shout for help but don't leave the baby. If the baby attempts to cough, let them continue as this is the most effective way to dislodge a blockage. If this does not work move onto step two.
  2. Lie him/her down with the head below the chest and give five sharp blows in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades. If back blows do not dislodge the object, move on to step three.
  3. Give up to five chest thrusts. Push firmly in the centre of the breastbone. Use two fingers for a baby and the palm of your hand for a child.
  4. If he/she stops breathing, make five attempts to blow air gently into his/her mouth, making a tight seal with your lips.
  5. Call 999 if the blockage does not dislodge. Continue with cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until the blockage dislodges, help arrives or the child becomes unresponsive. If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.

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(Step three for babies: chest thrusts)

What should I do when an adult/child is choking? (1+)

Instruct the casualty to cough. If the choking is only mild, this should clear the obstruction. If not, follow these steps:

  1. Deliver back blows. Shout for help, but don't leave them alone. Lean the casualty well forwards (over the knee for a child) and give up to five sharp blows to the middle of the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  2. If step one doesn't work, try abdominal thrusts. Stand behind the casualty and wrap your arms around their waist making a fist with one of your hands, and using the other to grab it. Sharply pull inwards and upwards five times.
  3. Call 999. Continue with cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts until the blockage dislodges, help arrives, or the casualty becomes unresponsive. If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.

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(Step two for those aged one and over: abdominal thrusts. Picture: British Red Cross)

Choking in children precautions and prevention:

  • Never leave a small child unattended while eating.
  • Don’t provide a drink while they eat. People do this to make the food go down and it can lead to choking.
  • Don’t allow someone to eat while lying down.
  • Children should sit up straight when eating.
  • Children should not eat when walking, riding in a car or playing.
  • Cut foods into small pieces, removing seeds and pits. Cook or steam vegetables to soften their texture. Cut hot dogs lengthwise and width wise and remove skin.
  • Think of shape, size, consistency and combinations of these when choosing foods.