A former paramedic has warned parents not to give ice cubes to children under four as they pose a potential choking risk.
Nikki Jurcutz, founder of Tiny Hearts Education, said people often think ice cubes are not a choking hazard because they “will just melt.”
However, the mother-of-two explained that a child would still be deprived of oxygen for up to ten minutes if an ice cube got stuck in their airway.
‘Ice cubes have the qualities that make something a high choking risk. “It’s slippery, it can be round in shape and it can get stuck inside your mouth,” he explained.
“But some parents have asked me if it’s safe for children, since it will melt anyway if they choke on it.”
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Former paramedic Nikki Jurcutz (pictured) has warned parents not to give ice cubes to their young children. She said they pose a serious suffocation risk.
Nikki said parents should think about how long it would take for an ice cube to melt in their child’s mouth.
“That’s how long a child who chokes on an ice cube would have to go without oxygen if we waited for it to melt,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be waiting for the ice to melt, I would start offering first aid at the first sign that a child is choking.”
He said a child can lose consciousness if an ice cube is shoved down their throat for one to three minutes.
After three minutes without oxygen, neurons in the brain are damaged, while after four minutes there is a risk of permanent brain damage and around 20 minutes is when a coma is likely to occur.
Nikki uses her wealth of knowledge from eight years working as a paramedic to teach parents child safety and first aid through her organization Tiny Heart’s Education.
Nikki said people may think ice cubes are not a choking hazard as they will “melt”, but a child could be deprived of oxygen for up to ten minutes if one gets lodged in their airways.
In case a child is choking, Tiny Hearts said if they do not have an effective cough, call 000 immediately and start hitting them to clear the obstruction.
Place the child head down on your lap for babies under one year old or sitting or standing for children between one and eight years old.
Give up to five short, sharp blows to the back with the palm of one hand between the shoulders and check the airway between each to see if the obstruction has cleared.
Parents were grateful for Nikki’s potentially life-saving advice and many said they had come close to having ice cubes in the past.
“My 19-month-old son loves ice cubes and I had never thought about this,” said one mother.
‘Our oldest son choked on an ice cube. The lucky centers knew how to hit the back. Shortly afterwards I did my first aid course!’ another wrote.
“When I was a kid I accidentally swallowed a huge ice cube and it got stuck. “I was really scared and I still remember the pain it caused me,” added a third.