Thursday, November 30, 2006

The danger of balloons

My nephew calls him mom (my sister-in-law) the balloon nazi. My son will do the same when he is old enough to know, and I know my friends are aware of "Tina's thing with balloons". I find it difficult not to walk up to children in the street, especially very samll children, and grab their balloons away from them. Birthday and Christmas parties with balloon animals practically cause me anxiety attacks. My sister-in-law and I feel like this because we, unfortunately, know someone who lost her son to a balloon. Yes, that's right. He choked on a piece of balloon and died. That simple childhood toy is more insidious than you can imagine.

Balloons cause more childhood deaths than any other toy. Latex balloons are the number one nonfood choking hazard, yet we hardly hear anything about it. We go to birthday parties full of balloons where children play with them and bounce them around. I've even seen a small child, barely able to walk, with her open mouth on a balloon, effectively trying to bite it while her mother looked at her, unconcerned (I butted in on that one). We cut hot dogs into tiny pieces, cut up grapes, make sure our children don't have toys that have small pieces which can come off and choke them yet most people don't blink an eye to hand a child a balloon.

There are ways around it. If you do use latex balloons, just put them up high, out of reach of children. Mylar balloons are fine so you can put those down low if you feel kids would like to play with them.

I am writing this because most people do not know this. I am writing this because after so many children's events, I come home and rant about it and after a recent one my husband said "put it in your blog". I am writing this because if you read this and tell two people and they tell two people and they tell two people... you know, maybe we can prevent these things from happening.

I know the numbers of deaths are not huge when you look at the statistics, but if you lose a child because of it, that will be the biggest number you have ever known. Even if you look at the recall notices of children's products (I used a link to a US site because the site for Health Canada's recall notices is much harder to navigate), you will, thank God, see that many of them have not caused any injuries or death, it is just the possibility that causes the recall. Yet, children are handed latex balloons all the time. They are given out freely at many events. I'm not telling you what to do. I am just giving you the information and if you think it can't happen to your child, I know someone who can tell you different.


At 11:31 PM, Blogger Chris (mombie) said...

Hmmm. I consider myself a bit of a safety fanatic but I haven't been too worried about balloons. I end up watching the kids like a hawk when we have them so they never, never, ever get them near their mouths.

Your concern makes sense to me though. You know, because you obviously need MY approval and all.


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