Child Injury Prevention (Ages 0-6)

Suffocation related incidents including choking and strangulation

Introduction

Why is this issue important? Unintentional suffocation, which also includes strangulation and choking on food and other objects, is the leading cause of injury death in Canada for children 0-4. Twenty-six (26) children aged 0-4 died from suffocation/strangulation/choking in 2009, whereas less than 5 children aged 5-9 died. One hundred and fifty-six (156) children aged 0-4 and twenty-seven (27) aged 5-9 were admitted to hospital as a result of suffocation/strangulation/choking (2010/11). As stated in Lesson 1, Introduction to Child Injury Prevention, these admissions arejust the tip of the iceberg as many of these children are only seen in the emergency room or at a clinic, and are not admitted to hospital.

Choking, suffocation and strangulation injuries are preventable.

Primary messages

The images and messages depicted are the most common ways that children 0-6 are injured from suffocation related incidents. Visit the Images section for each topic to view and download the images with their corresponding messages.

How to use the images?

These images can be useful in starting discussion about what caregivers know about how to prevent injury and to problem-solve around the barriers they encounter in keeping their children safe.  The images can also be integrated into other resources that you create, such as posters, calendars, displays, etc.

Program examples and evaluation tool

These suffocation examples are based on best practice and share activities that groups have done or could undertake.

The following documents are available for download:

Supplementary messages and resources

  • Babies explore their environment by putting things they can reach in their mouth.
  • If a toy fits in the mouth, a child can choke on it.  If an object fits through a cardboard toilet paper roll, it can cause a young child to choke.
  • Follow the recommended ages on the labels of toys.
  • Cordless window coverings are the safest option to prevent strangulation.
  • Grate or cut hard and round foods into strips, for your toddler, to prevent choking
  • Children should sit up straight while eating, and eat slowly.

For additional messaging and information visit the Choking and Home safety: Bedtime sections of the Parachute website.

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Endnotes

Public Health Agency of Canada analysis of 2009 mortality data from Statistics Canada and 2010/11 hospitalization data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. (This is the most recent data available.)