Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
April 6, 2024 ·  4 min read

Girl, 5, Dies on Way Home from Swimming Lessons After Choking on a Hot Dog.

Early on, we are told about fire safety, and to look both ways before crossing the street. Nearly every product in our homes come with a list of potential safety hazards, including choking warnings. Parents want the best for their children. As a result, parents make choices every day they feel will protect their children. However, we are all human and that means everyone is susceptible to possible dangers in life, no matter how attentive a parent might be. In the case of 5-year-old Imogen Lennon, she became victim of a choking accident and tragically passed away.

Snacking Led to Tragedy

Imogen had just finished a swim lesson on January 16th, 2023. Her mom, Samantha, picked her up and brought her a snack, as swimming burns a lot of energy. Samantha had brought for Imogen, a deli Frankfurt, similar to a hotdog. Imogen was happily chatting away in the back seat as the pair traveled to their home in New South Wales when the young girl began choking from the backseat of her mom’s car. Samantha immediately called an ambulance, but dispatch informed her there was not enough time to come pick up the girl. Following the call, Samantha rushed her choking daughter to nearest hospital.

Choking Fatality

Unfortunately, despite the hospitals best efforts, Imogen didn’t make it and she passed away at the hospital. A family friend has since started a GoFundMe page to help the family deal with this hard time. She described Imogen as a, “bright, determined, loving, and sassy five-year-old“. Further writing, “To make sense of such a tragic loss in such a way is inconceivable, there are no words that could accurately describe how shattered Imogen’s family are. She concluded, “It is impossible to imagine life without Imogen.”

This sad story is a reminder to parents everywhere to pay extra close attention when young children are eating. When children are very small, so are their lungs passageways. This means that tiny beads, peas, and other small but rounded objects easily become lodged in the throat and prevent air flow, resulting in choking. Eventually, children will turn blue from lack of air and blood flow, preventing the brain from getting oxygen. When left untreated, this often results in one choking to death.

Preventing Disaster

Choking is the number one cause of death among infants and young children. Unless there is an underlying condition such as ALS, choking is also fairly easy to prevent. First and foremost, it’s important for children to be seated and mostly still while eating. That means strollers and cars are not the safest places to be eating. Children tend to bounce all over the place, it’s important that if they are not ready, able, or willing to sit still, they should not be given foods to eat while in motion.

Moreover, children are told not to speak with their mouths full because it’s rude. While that is true, a much more important reason is to minimize a potential choking hazard. Additionally, parents can mash their child’s food, make smoothies or serve yogurt and applesauce. These less than solid foods, go down much easier and in turn may also minimize choking hazards.

Safety Tips

Unfortunately, choking isn’t always preventable. In this case, knowing how to “treat” it can be helpful. According to the Mayo Clinic guidelines, there are a handful of steps you can take to assist a choking person. However, children are smaller, and their bones and organs require a little more care than those of adults. For anyone choking, give them 5 blows to the back to release the obstruction.

Take note of the age of the person as will determine how hard you should be delivering these blows. If step 1 doesn’t solve the problem, then move on to step 2. Step 2 consists of holding the child around the waist and pulling inwards and upwards above their belly button. As a last result, although in most medical emergencies this should be one of your first steps, call the emergency dispatcher to send paramedics, EMT’s or an ambulance.

Other Possible Choking Hazards

It’s important to note that toys with tiny parts can cause a choking hazard. Buttons, coins, balloons, and hair barrettes are also possible choking hazards. Foods that can cause choking include, Hotdogs, sticky candies, gum, popcorn, whole grapes, chunky nut butters and even nuts themselves can become lodged in the throat cutting off air flow. Essentially, the most important foods to avoid are those that are solid and shaped to perfectly fit into the windpipe.

Losing a child is never easy for any parent. It becomes an even more heartbreaking experience when that death could have been prevented. Choking is one of the most preventable causes of death. Simply by staying informed on CPR safety, and what kind of things, toys or foods, children have access to a parent can significantly reduce their child’s risk of choking to death.

Sources

  1. Choking prevention.” Healthy Children. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  2. Household safety: Preventing choking (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. Kids Health. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  3. Girl, five, dies on the drive home from swimming lessons after choking on a deli Frankfurt.” Daily Mail Online. Tita Smith. January 26, 2023.
  4. Choking hazards.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 30, 2023.