Mom Warns Parents After Son Gets Tongue Stuck in Water Bottle

Doctors said boy needed surgery but could have died in the process
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at[at]
July 26, 2019 Updated: July 26, 2019

A mother took to social media to issue a warning after her son got his tongue stuck in a water bottle and had to face surgery—which doctors said could have potentially killed him—to free his tongue.

Clare Wooff from Lancaster, U.K., was driving to shops on July 20 when her 6-year-old son Riley began making unusual noises from the back seat of the car. He then shouted that his tongue was stuck.

Wooff pulled over to the side of the road and expected that it would be easy to free her son’s tongue from the lid of the bottle, but it would not budge.

It is believed a vacuum had been formed and the force prevented Riley from freeing his tongue.

Riley’s tongue became swollen and was turning black. Doctors informed Wooff that Riley needed surgery to keep him from losing his tongue. But the surgery could kill him.

They explained to Wooff that her son could lose the ability to breathe when the lid gets cut off his tongue because the swelling could migrate down his throat.

If this happened, Riley would need a tracheotomy, which would require intensive care.

Furthermore, there was a big chance of Riley getting a heart attack, Wooff recalled having been told.

“I had to sign a consent form for a tracheostomy, told the risks of operating were heart attack due to blood being released, airway issues,” she wrote in a Facebook post that has gotten widespread attention.

Riley underwent an operation that was attended by 10 medics. Riley was put under sedation, and the doctors were able to remove the lid.

The boy had a temporary speech impediment after the operation, but the good news was that his tongue was intact.

“Riley’s ok just very swollen and very bruised his tongue is purple!” Wooff wrote in a Facebook post on July 20, after the surgery. “Who would of thought a drinks bottle could potentially be fatal?”

“I wouldn’t normally share a personal post on Facebook like this but after what could of happened today, I’d like to warn other parents about these drink bottles,’ Wooff wrote.

The bottle was purchased from Sainsbury’s, a U.K.-based supermarket chain. Wooff is urging the chain to recall these water bottles.

“To think this is an everyday item most kids would have in their school lunch boxes—it’s scary,” Wooff said according to the Daily Mail.

“To other parents, please, just throw them away. Even as an adult, it’s easy to put your tongue in these bottles messing around.

“I think all bottles should have a gauze or something to stop this happening again—and Sainsbury’s should also recall [those that don’t],” she added.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury said the incident is being investigated and they wish Riley a speedy recovery.

In an update to Facebook on July 23, Wooff said that Riley has since recovered and thanked people for their support during the ordeal. She added that the incident was “the scariest day of our lives.”

Texas Boy Sent to Emergency Room After Tongue Gets Stuck in Water Bottle

Riley’s case was not the first. In Texas in early 2016, a 9-year-old boy also got his tongue stuck in a plastic water bottle.

The boy, Trenton Mikkola, was in tears in efforts to free his tongue, KHOU11 reported. The incident happened during class at Theiss Elementary school in Klein.

Mikkola recalled the incident to the news station, saying that “all the suction (inside the bottle) it (pulled my tongue) right inside there.”

School nurses tried using tongue depressors and Vaseline, and other staffers at the boy’s school tried using plyers. No luck.

“I couldn’t speak,” Mikkola recalled to the station. “I couldn’t swallow.”

Mikkola also required surgery to survive the ordeal.

Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at[at]