As the New Year approaches and more people start eating traditional glutinous rice cakes, the Tokyo Fire Department is calling on residents to be careful to avoid getting the food stuck in their throats.
According to the department, between 2011 and 2015, 562 people in Tokyo were rushed to hospitals after rice cakes, or other such foods, became stuck in their throats. Forty-five of them died, and 208 of them fell into serious condition like loss of consciousness.
Around 90 percent of the people, 502, were aged 65 or older. Around 40 percent, 223, were sent to the hospital in January, when rice cakes are often eaten.
An official at the department says, "We want residents to cut rice cakes thinly and chew them well. When small children or elderly people eat them, it is important for those nearby to be attentive."
According to the fire department, when getting food caught in the throat, an effective method to dislodge it is to support the jaw while hitting the person on the back.