Fidget spinners are the latest fad to sweep through playgrounds and playdates alike, but after a mother’s trip to emergency this week with her daughter, they’ve now been identified as a choking hazard.
What are fidget spinners?
Originally designed for primary school aged children to help them stay focused in class, fidget spinners are small plastic devices made up of a number of different parts (including small metal discs) that literally spin in your hands like a propeller. They’re so popular that they’ve now transcended the classroom and found their way into the pockets of preschoolers who have been introduced to fidget spinners by their cool older siblings.
I am currently being badgered daily to purchase one of these (or make one from Lego), by my 4 and 6-year-olds. Not wanting to give in to yet ANOTHER craze destined for landfill, I have managed to resist their pleading. And after reading a mother’s grave warning on Facebook, I definitely won’t be buying one now that I know it has parts that could be swallowed by my 9-month-old who is at the panic-inducing stage of putting everything in his mouth.
“A retching noise coming from the back seat”
Kelly Rose Joniec was driving home from a swim meet last Saturday when she heard her daughter Britton make a retching noise in the backseat. Looking in the mirror she saw her “face turning red and drool pouring from her mouth,” so Kelly pulled over as her daughter made noises and gestured that she’d swallowed something. That something was in fact a part from her fidget spinner which she had put in her mouth to clean. Kelly attempted the Heimlich manoeuvre with no success and so in a panic went straight to the emergency room where she was rushed by ambulance to another hospital.
Terrifyingly, an X-Ray at the hospital showed one of the fidget spinner discs was lodged in Britton’s oesophagus. After many stressful hours, the disc was thankfully removed by endoscopic surgery, however it was an event that no mother or child wants to go through.
A warning to other parents
Kelly posted her story on Facebook as a warning to other parents, particularly for those with younger children who might be exposed to them.
“Fidget spinners are the current craze so they are widely distributed. Kids of all ages may be getting them, but not all spinners come with age-appropriate warnings. The bushings pop out easily, so if you have young kids (under 8 yr old) keep in mind that these present a potential choking hazard,” she posted on Facebook.
We had a pretty eventful Saturday.On the way home from a fun swim meet, I heard Britton make an odd retching noise in…
I for one am thankful Kelly has shared this warning. I definitely won’t be encouraging their presence in our home. Although my baby is the primary concern, given his age and natural curiosity for everything he finds, this incident really goes to show that it could still pose a risk to my older boys – who knows when young children will decide to put things in their mouths?!
Tips to prevent kids choking
According to Kidsafe, children aged four and under are at the highest risk of choking. Not leaving small, hard items (anything smaller than a ping pong ball such as coins, batteries or lego pieces) on the floor or within reach is essential, however food should also be closely monitored.
- Cut or grate the food down to smaller, easy-to-swallow pieces
- Slightly cook certain vegetables, such as carrots, to soften them
- Avoid hard food that can’t easily be chewed by a child, such as boiled lollies, certain nuts and chewing gum
- Ensure children are seated whenever they are eating, not running around or laying down
Not allowing food or toys with small parts in the car is also a good idea, because when driving you may not know your child is choking or easily be able to help them.
What to do if your child chokes
Kidsafe recommends that parents learn first aid and keep their life saving skills up to date, because you never know when an emergency might take place. However here are some basic things to remember if your child is choking:
- Check their mouth for food; remove any food that you can see (scoop it out with your fingers).
- Stay with them and watch to see if their breathing improves.
- If coughing has not removed the food and your child is not breathing easily, phone 000 for an ambulance.
- Phone 000 for an ambulance.
- If they are conscious, place them face down over your lap so that their head is lower than their chest.
Has your child been exposed to fidget spinners yet?