I picked my daughter up from her Pre-K classroom. The leprechauns had been there for St. Patrick’s Day, so the room had green streamers and green balloons strewn about. Each child was allowed to take home one balloon. My daughter happily grabbed hers, said goodbye to her teacher, and we were on our way.
As we were driving home, my daughter squeezed her balloon too tight. The loud, quick noise startled both of us, and we giggled as we talked about it. Not thirty seconds later, I caught a glimpse of my five-year-old daughter putting one of the green balloon pieces in her mouth.
“No, thank you! Take the balloon out of your mouth RIGHT NOW!” I said in a loud voice.
My daughter was taken aback; she didn’t understand why it was such a big deal.
Balloons are a big deal, though, but not in a good way. According to the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Safety Commission, “of all children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death” This means that more than any other children’s toy, latex balloons are the ones to watch out for. When a balloon pops or a child is blowing up a balloon, they are at risk of swallowing or inhaling the balloon and suffocating or choking.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital states it even more plainly: “Latex balloons are a leading cause of choking deaths to children eight years of age or younger.”
When I first read this fact when my daughter was little, I was shocked. As parents, we cut food into tiny pieces and check warning labels on toys for children under three, but until I read that article, I had never thought about balloons.
Balloons tend to be a staple at any children’s party. The game “Keepy Uppy”–created by the oh-so-fantastical writers of Bluey–is an awesome game that involves a balloon. Water balloons are a fun part of summer. But if you have children under eight years old, please consider keeping them out of the house and out of the yard. It doesn’t take long for something to happen. And if you need balloons, consider using the Mylar kind because they break far less easily and are not inflated by mouth.
My daughter is five and doesn’t typically put things in her mouth. Yet, in the car that afternoon, she readily put a broken piece of balloon in there. I’m so glad I saw her do it and that she listened to me. As celebrations continue into the spring and summer arrives, please consider listening to the choking warning about balloons for children under eight and steer clear of balloons. Balloons are a big deal but not in a good way.