Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Be Prepared - Heimlich Maneuver

The following is from my daughter, a memo she wrote to the manager of the snack bar at the local baseball field. She didn't protest learning CPR and Heimlich when she was sixteen and it paid off on Saturday 24 years later. Just boggles my mind that a candy marketed to kids comes with eating instructions! I ask, how many of us look for directions on packaging before we eat something?....and to expect a kid to read a label before eating candy - the mind boggles.

Wonka Giant Chewy Sweettarts
I wanted to let you know that Henry purchased Giant Chewy Sweettarts from the snackbar with his team “ticket” after his 10am game on Saturday.

He was eating them in the car as we drove south on Grant. He started choking; it started as a normal water-down -the–wrong-hole-kind of choking noise and then turned to no noise at all – I made an emergency stop, yelled to Ben to run towards the McDonalds to see if there was a doctor anywhere in the Basha’s center, wrenched the car door open (against the sliding door mechanism – I think I could have lifted the car with one hand at that point)….yanked Henry from the back seat and immediately started to administer the Heimlich Maneuver on him. He was not breathing at all. His color was changing and his eyes were wide as saucers – it took three attempts to dislodge the candy which was propelled several feet. Henry was limp in my arms and I was prepared to start CPR – I started to do chest compressions when he lifted his head and whispered, “I’m okay.” (the best two words this mom has ever heard)

At this point, a stranger had pulled over to help me. Henry slowly regained his color. We were all left very shaken, but Henry is doing fine.

In reviewing the package of candy I noted that it reads “BREAK IT! Before unwrapping, strike against hard object and break into bite-size pieces.” In other words, it would seem that Nestle is aware that this product is dangerous, otherwise they wouldn’t have “eating” and “chewing” instructions on it. Many people choke on items that they simply don’t chew, but if a product is designed to be difficult to chew, then it seems that it is inherently dangerous.

I reported this matter to Nestle company today. They required that I advise where I purchased the candy. They offered the profuse apologies, but also asked, “Did your son read the eating instructions?” My answer was “No, I seriously doubt he did as he’s 7 years old... And I can’t believe that very many, if any, children read the instructions on their candy wrappers.” The Nestle representative did not disagree!

In short, I have learned my lesson (it will be a long time before the kids can eat while I’m driving, and I thank my mom for making me do CPR class when I was 16), and we won’t be purchasing this candy ever again. I wonder if you might consider pulling it from the snack bar. I would hate for any child to choke on this candy and suffer brain damage or death. I have never before been in such an urgent medical situation – one in which I thought that my child was going to literally die in my arms. I would be remiss in trying to prevent it from happening to any other children.

The snack bar manager responded appropriately.

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1 comment:

  1. Good grief. Certainly going to check out the candy that my grandkids bring over. Well done on listening to your Mom when you were sixteen and being prepared! As a retired nurse I can only urge people to become proficient in both CPR and the Heimlich. Twice in the past few years I've seen both used to save a life.


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