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Halloween Safety: Top Choking Threats for Candy & Snacks

October 14, 2019

Halloween Safety: Top Choking Threats for Candy & Snacks

The witching hour nears! Halloween can be one of the most fun, memorable times of the year as costumed families head out into their neighborhoods for parties and trick-or-treating. Here at Dechoker, we find the occasion a good opportunity to remind caregivers about the dangers of choking on candy, snack foods and other risks that are common during this spooky season.

Let’s take a look at some common questions we’ve heard from parents around Halloween:

What Halloween candy has the highest choking risk?

As we all know at Halloween, some candies are better than others. (And we’re not just talking about the ongoing debate on candy corn quality!) We’re talking about the risk of choking. According to Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting, a lot of Halloween treats fit into the category of choking hazards. 

“Hard candy, nuts, raisins, fruit snacks, gum or anything gooey or sticky like caramel, candy corn, taffy or marshmallows,” can be a risk, Murkoff says on her blog. Other top choking foods you might find at Halloween parties include popcorn, snack mixes and raw produce such as baby carrots and grapes. 

According to a Forbes article on a study on childhood choking causes in the journal Pediatrics, “Hard candy accounted for 15% of all choking episodes, and other types of candy caused an additional 12.8%.”

So what candy CAN my kids have?

Choking statistics can be scary, but of course we want our kids to have a great Halloween, and that doesn’t have to mean depriving them of all candy.

Choking risks can never be completely eliminated, but candies that are softer and easier to chew tend to be a safer choice. According to nurse practitioner Danielle McBurnett Stringer, “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, M&M’s, Hershey’s Kisses, Skittles, and 3 Musketeer Bars are all great examples” of these types of softer candies. (She also has a specific list of candies to avoid that’s worth a read!)

We also encourage parents and caregivers to let their kids enjoy their safe candy choices under supervision, particularly for younger kids. Try collecting your children’s candy and having them ask for it when they want some, so you’ll know when to keep an eye out.

What else should I look out for at Halloween?

Don’t forget about another choking risk that’s common at Halloween: young kids putting small non-food items in their mouths. 

When you dump out your child’s trick-or-treat bucket or party favor bag, how many little plastic spiders, ghost erasers, Halloween rings and other toys and trinkets do you find? Additionally, remember that lots of seasonal decor comes with small parts that might be a hazard.

Children up to age 4 or 5 are at the highest risk of choking in the first place because of their development and anatomy, and they’re also the most likely to put little things in their mouths. 

How can I reduce the risk of my kids choking?

In addition to the preventive tips above, we recommend parents consider adding The Dechoker anti-choking device to your family’s first-aid kit. 

Using The Dechoker on a choking person is as simple as applying the facemask and pulling back on the plunger, which creates suction that can clear the person’s airway in just seconds. Available in sizes for toddlers, children and adults, this innovative, life-saving device brings peace of mind at Halloween and year-round. We wish your family a happy and safe Halloween and holiday season!

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