If you want a nightmare, go ahead and Google "pediatric choking." You'll find all manner of horror stories from moms who have lived through the unthinkable. You'll also find statistics, like the Centers for Disease Control research that cites choking as the fourth leading cause of death in young children — a tragedy that takes one child's life every five days.
You'll also hear wisdom from health experts like the New York Times' Jane Brody, who says, "A child should not eat in a moving vehicle, ever. If the driver stops short or the vehicle is bumped from behind, the sudden lurch may cause a child to inhale food or to swallow it un-chewed."
Of course, this seems so obvious, but I'm guilty of handing french fries to my daughter in the backseat when we're crunched for time. My best guess is that you've given your child food while driving, too. Most moms can recognize that this isn't a great parenting practice — but do you know what to do if your child starts to choke while you're stuck in the car?
First of all, you need to recognize the signs of choking. According to the Mayo Clinic, a choking child won't be able to talk or cough forcefully, and will have difficulty breathing. If too much time passes, his or her skin and nails will start to look bluish. He or she may lose consciousness. If any of these signs are present, you must act quickly and calmly, even if you're stuck in traffic.
Once help arrives, leave the scene to go to the hospital. Doctors will need to check your child for remaining food or object particles, in order to prevent later aspiration or infection.
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