I’m going to have to add a subsection to the Duh Files called the “Are you freaking serious?” file, because just when you’re sure you’ve heard everything, something else surprises you. New on the list: there’s a call to redesign hot dogs so children won’t choke on them.
To be fair, a child who is choking is a horrible, frightening thing and too many children do choke. Sadly, many parents and by-standers don’t know what to do because they’ve never learned first aid techniques. But we have gotten better about passing regulations as to how small children’s toys can be, how parts can’t break off, and so on.
According to a policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatricians,
-At least one child dies from choking on food every 5 days in the U.S.
-Hot dogs are the biggest cause of choking deaths for children under 10. Other foods are listed as well.
-A mandatory system is needed to require food makers to label high-risk foods with appropriate warning labels.
-Food makers should, when possible, redesign foods to avoid shapes, sizes and textures that increase choking risk
Parents have been made more aware of the potential choking hazards of coins and hard candies, to name a few. But hot dogs are also a choking hazard because of the shape of the weiner and the way a child can easily bite off a big bite. As well, hot dogs are often eaten in a social environment when a child is laughing, talking, and generally probably not paying attention to what he or she is doing.
So, now I read about calls for hot dogs need to be redesigned to lessen the choking hazard. But, where does it stop? When my children were young, I knew back then about the dangers of hot dogs and I always made sure that their hot dogs were sliced down the middle. There never any exceptions, even if we went out and bought a hot dog somewhere.
Realistically, how would a hot dog be redesigned? To look like a hamburger? You can choke on a hamburger if you take too big a bite and don’t chew it properly. You can choke on cheese, a marshmallow, piece of toast, potato, carrot, and so on. Choking dangers are all around us.
The world is full of hazards and there are times when parents do have to have eyes in the back of their head. There are times when a parent has to change things and do things to prevent injury to their children.
I would never make light of a horrible tragedy such as a child choking and I’m not doing that here. But I also don’t believe that by removing everything we think could be harmful that our children will be 100% safe. In fact, I think it makes us a little lax, thinking that we don’t have to be so vigilant.
When my children were young, I only put child locks on a few cupboard, not all of them, not on the oven, on the fridge, or the toilet. Why? Because at some point in the lives of my children, they had to learn the meaning of the word “no.” That would keep them safer than if they didn’t learn about boundaries. To me, it’s the same thing with the hot dogs. We have to be careful. We have to cut the hot dogs that are being served to children. We all need to know basic first aid so we can help a choking child. But there are limits to what we can – and should – do.