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Mom Posts PSA After Son Swallowed Wire Bristles From BBQ Brush

After an X-ray revealed her son had a wire bristle stuck in his throat from eating barbecue chicken, this mom wants to warn other parents.

If you use a wire brush to clean your grill, you're going to want to pay close attention. Because those tiny bristles can apparently come off and cause lots of problems—something mom Jenna Kuchik learned the hard way, after one of them got stuck in her 4-year-old son's throat during a Fourth of July barbecue.

"Just minutes after eating BBQ chicken last night Ollie started crying and complaining there was something stuck and hurting his throat," Kuchik later explained on Facebook. "X-ray confirmed a few hours later that there was indeed a metal BBQ brush bristle in my little boys throat. Throughout the 2 hours at the hospital Ollie couldn't swallow and kept gagging and spitting. It was the most awful and difficult 24 hours of my life watching my son in so much pain, not being able to do anything to make it better and know that this could have been 100 percent avoidable."

Pretty scary! Luckily, doctors were able to remove the two pieces of metal bristles from the little boy's throat during surgery.

"He was such an amazing, strong, brave boy (even after not being allowed to eat or drink for almost 24 hours)," Kuchik wrote. "I am so grateful he is OK but I just don't ever want something like this to happen to someone else."

We are so glad Ollie has recovered. But apparently, his case was not a fluke. According to a study published in 2016 in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, barbecue brushes led to an estimated 1,698 emergency room visits from 2002 to 2014. Yikes!

"One little bristle unrecognized could get lodged in various areas of the body, whether in the throat, tonsil, or neck region," explained study leader David Chang, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology at the MU School of Medicine, in a video last month. "If the bristle passes through those regions without lodging itself, it could get stuck further downstream in places like the esophagus, stomach, or the intestine. The biggest worry is that it will lodge into those areas and get stuck in the wall of the intestine. The bristles could migrate out of the intestine and cause further internal damage. Physicians, consumers, and product manufacturers need to be aware of the dangers of wire-bristle grill brushes to promote safety."

So what can we do to keep our kids safe? Dr. Chang recommends the following tips:

  • Use caution when cleaning grills with wire-bristle brushes, examining brushes before each use and discarding if bristles are loose.
  • Inspect your grill's cooking grates before cooking, or use alternative cleaning methods such as nylon-bristle brushes or balls of tin foil.
  • Inspect grilled food carefully after cooking to make sure bristles are not stuck to the food.

Check out more great ideas on how to clean your grill without using a wire bristle brush.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram.