ACCC releases new tool to help parents identify choking hazards for children

1 July 2014

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today released a free do-it-yourself ‘Choke Check’ safety tool to help parents detect choking hazards for babies and toddlers.

“Children up to 36 months old are especially vulnerable to choking and ingestion hazards from a range of common objects found in and outside the home,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“They naturally explore things by putting them in their mouths—as their coughing reflexes are underdeveloped, objects can get easily lodged in their throat and choke or suffocate them. If swallowed, these objects can cause internal blockages.”

The ACCC is encouraging parents to print out and make the Choke Check at home to help determine which objects might pose hazards.

The completed Choke Check is cylinder-shaped and works by mimicking the size and shape of a child’s throat (up to the age of 36 months).

“If an object fits completely inside the cylinder, it could get stuck down a curious baby’s throat or be swallowed, so keep it out of their reach,” Ms Rickard said.

“Be especially vigilant about toys—small parts can easily detach and present a choking risk. Also keep in mind age-appropriateness—some toys that designed for older children may present a choking risk for babies and toddlers.”

Consumers can get the Choke Check PDF and instructions at www.productsafety.gov.au/chokecheck.

Parents, carers and expectant parents can find safety information on over 30 different child and nursery products plus removing hazards around the home in the ACCC’s free Keeping Baby Safe guide (also as an app and eBook), available at www.productsafety.gov.au/keepingbabysafe.

Top 5 tips for buying safe toys

  1. Read and follow any warning labels or safety information carefully.
  2. Make sure toys are age-appropriate and always check the age-grading on the packaging. Age-grading is there for safety as well as child development reasons – toys designed for older children can be dangerous for babies.
  3. Check that toys for kids under three years old don’t present a choking hazard, including checking that no small parts can come off. Find out by making your own free Choke Check tool at www.productsafety.gov.au/chokecheck.
  4. Make sure any battery compartments are secure – lithium ‘button’ batteries especially can cause serious internal injuries and death if swallowed. See www.productsafety.gov.au/batterycontrolled for more information.
  5. Make sure there are no accessible small magnets. These can also cause serious internal injuries and death if a young child swallows more than one. If they can fit into the Choke Check cylinder, they could pose a serious ingestion hazard and/or choking hazard.
Release number: 
NR 169/14
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