CPSC Warns Parents About Choking Hazards to Young Children, Announces New Recall of Toys Posing Choking Hazards

September 20, 2004
Release Number: 04-216

September is Baby Safety Month and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is asking parents and caregivers to check their home for items that may pose a choking hazard to young children. CPSC also announced a recall that presents a choking hazard due to detaching small parts.

Each year, CPSC receives about 15 reports of choking deaths to children under age 3. Some of these deaths involve items that are considered known hazards such as small toys, toy parts, balloons, balls and marbles. In addition to known hazards, such as balloons, there are many tragic deaths each year that result from hidden hazards. These are often small objects not intended for use by children but that accidentally end up in their hands and mouths.

"Parents and caregivers should stay on the lookout for small parts breaking off of toys or young children getting their hands on items intended for older siblings," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "Marbles and balls are the most recognizable hazards; but everyday household items also pose choking dangers."

Choking has long been the leading cause of toy-related deaths to young children. To help prevent these deaths, the Commission requires age-appropriate labeling on toys and products for older children that contain small parts. Toys designed for children 3 and older should be kept away from young children.

Balloons, a leading cause of toy-related deaths, are often a favorite of young children. However, un-inflated balloons and fragments from popped balloons can choke and kill a small child.

CPSC has designed new choking awareness posters to educate parents and caregivers about the potential hazards to young children regarding small parts. The posters are available in English and Spanish (both downloadable here in portable document format - pdf). Steps parents can take to keep their children safe include:

-Keep small objects like small toys and parts of toys, marbles, balloons, small balls and coins off the floor and out of reach of children.

-Toys designed for older children should be kept out of the hands of little ones.

-Follow labels that give age recommendations; these age recommendations are based on safety concerns.

-Teach older children to help keep their toys away from younger siblings.

-Check the eyes and noses of stuffed animals to ensure they are properly secured.