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Swallowing Hazards: How to Keep Kids Safe

What Are Swallowing Hazards? How Do You Keep Kids Safe?

Choking and Strangulation

  • Cut food for toddlers into tiny pieces. Children under 5 should not eat small, round or hard foods, including pieces of hot dogs, cheese sticks or chunks, hard candy, nuts, grapes, marshmallows or popcorn.
  • Read the instructions and warning labels when purchasing toys to make sure it’s just right for your child’s age. Check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards.
  • Keep small magnets away from children. These include magnets found in construction sets, children’s toys and refrigerator magnets. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect your child swallowed a magnet.
  • Keep cords and strings, including those attached to window blinds, out of your child’s reach.
  • Move chairs, cribs and other furniture away from windows to help prevent window falls.
  • Remove necklaces, purses, scarves, helmets or clothing with drawstrings when children are playing or sleeping.

Button Battery Safety

  • Keep small electronics or devices that use button batteries out of reach of small children. These include remote controls, key fobs, watches, calculators, musical greeting cards, flashing holiday jewelry or decorations and flameless candles.
  • Keep loose batteries locked away, or place a piece of duct tape over the controller to secure the battery compartment.
  • If you suspect your child has ingested a battery, go to the hospital immediately. Don't induce vomiting or have your child eat or drink anything until they are seen by a medical professional.
  • Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202-625-3333) anytime for additional treatment information.


  • Store all household products, cleaning solutions and poisonous items out of children’s sight and reach using safety locks. Remember, young children are often eye level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous to kids.
    • Dangerous household items include makeup, personal care products, plants, pesticides, lead, art supplies, alcohol and laundry detergent pods.
  • Make sure that all medicines, including vitamins, are stored out of reach and out of sight of children.
  • Put the toll-free number Poison Help Number (1-800-222-1222) into your home and cell phones and also post it near your phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter.
  • Check for lead-based paint. Remove any peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms, and vice versa.
  • Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector in the sleeping areas.
  • Don’t use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • If you need to warm your car, remove it from the garage before starting it. Never leave a car, SUV or motorcycle engine running inside a garage.
  • Don’t use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or near a window.
  • On the outside of your home, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.

Last Updated 05/2018

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