I'm an ex-paramedic and mum – here’s the dangerous food that acts like a perfect plug BLOCKING your child's airway | The Sun

WHATEVER the form they come in – be it frankfurters, hot dogs or mini cocktail ones – sausages are a much loved snack for many children.

But first aiders have warned that the beloved food could put your child at risk of choking – especially if prepared in a certain way.

As professor of paediatrics Dr Gary Smith put it: “If you were to design a perfect plug for a child’s airway, you couldn’t do much better than a hot dog.”

Baby and child first aid education programme Tiny Hearts Education recently flagged that not enough people know about how hot dogs are a high risk choking food for kids.

"These foods are the perfect shape and texture to block off a child’s airway," they shared in a post.

It came after a mum and former paediatric nurse reached out to Tiny Hearts, asking if they could raise awareness on how dangerous the snack is, following the tragic deaths of two children living in her area- central west New South Wales in Australia – from choking on hot dogs.

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The nurse said these two incidents had "really hit home" and made her aware that "there is nowhere near enough health promotion" around how hazardous hot dogs can be.

She even shared that she'd spoken to the director of the daycare her little ones were due to start at to request food safety measures be implemented, and was shocked to discover that the director had no idea hot dogs were choking hazards.

In a clip responding to the concerned mum, Nikki Jurcutz – the former paramedic behind Tiny Hearts – explained exactly why the much loved food is so dangerous to children.

The clip showed how a hot dog and a child's airway are "a really similar shape and size".

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She said the food was especially hazardous to little ones when cut into round, coin-like pieces that Nikki described as perfectly 'airway sized'.

She warned parents and carers to stop preparing the snack in this way immediately.

Instead, the paramedic said you should be cutting them length-ways and then quartering them so that the hot dog is in a stick shape rather than a coin.

The clip 'clearly shows why' parents need to be taking his precaution, Nikki said, demonstrating how if a sausage piece cut length-ways gets into your child's airway, it won't completely block it.

"At least there's going to be some oxygen able to move in or out.

"Whereas, if it's cut in the little circles, it's going to completely block the airway."

Nikki urged viewers to share the clip with other parents to raise awareness of this high risk food.

Tiny Hearts has previously shared the harrowing reality of what happens to your child's body minute by minute when they choke on a object or a piece of food.

That's why it's imperative to know how to act in an emergency situation, the medics stressed.

What to do if your child chokes

IF your child chokes, it’s important to act quickly.

The NHS says if the child is coughing, encourage them to continue as they may be able to bring the object up. Don't leave them alone while this is happening.

But if their coughing is silent, they can't breathe properly or they don't bring anything up, get help immediately.

Use back blows on your tot if they're still conscious.

First aiders at St John Ambulance give the following advice based on the child’s age.


  1. Slap it out:
  • Lay the baby face down along your thigh and support their head  
  • Give five back blows between their shoulder blades  
  • Turn them over and check their mouth each time  

2. Squeeze it out:

  • Turn the baby over, face upwards, supported along your thigh 
  • Put two fingers in the centre of their chest just below the nipple line; push downwards to give up to five sharp chest thrusts 
  • Check the mouth each time  

3. If the item does not dislodge, call 999 or 112 for emergency help  

  • Take the baby with you to call  
  • Repeat the steps 1 and 2 until help arrives 
  • Start CPR if the baby becomes unresponsive (unconscious)  


1. Cough it out  

  • Encourage the casualty to keep coughing, if they can 

2. Slap it out  

  • Lean them forwards, supporting them with one hand 
  • Give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades 
  • Check their mouth each time but do not put your fingers in their mouth  

3. Squeeze it out  

  • Stand behind them with your arms around their waist, with one clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest 
  • Grasp the fist in the other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards, giving up to five abdominal thrusts 
  • Check their mouth each time

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