Balloons are fun and exciting, a festive addition to any party or gathering. Balloons are great for adding a splash of color and a little lightheartedness; however, balloons can pose a serious risk for young children and babies. Balloons are often viewed as a fun toy for kids, but a balloon poses a serious risk to a child’s health and safety, and possibly even their life.
Balloons present a serious choking risk
Children love playing with balloons; however, just because children love them, doesn’t mean they should be allowed to play with them. Roughly one-third of all choking deaths in young children and infants result from choking on latex balloons. Although a fully inflated balloon may not pose a risk, deflated and broken balloons do. Young children are more likely to accidentally inhale a balloon while trying to blow it up. A young child could also pop a balloon on accident and the pieces could make their way into his or her mouth, posing a serious health risk. The problem was so alarming that beginning in 1994 balloon manufacturers were required to print warning labels on balloon packages.
Europe bans balloons for young children
The European Union has enacted laws that prohibit balloons from being blown up by children under the age of eight unsupervised. The law was likely prompted by the risk of the child accidentally swallowing the balloon or choking on it. European officials are concerned about the health and safety of children who may potentially be using these products or who may use the product incorrectly, whether accidental or not.
Preventing balloon-related accidents
Parents and caregivers should take special care to prevent balloon related injuries in children. Parents should avoid letting their children play with any type of latex or rubber balloons, especially so if the child will put the balloon in his or her mouth. If parents would still like to let their children enjoy playing with balloons, foil or mylar balloons are a much safer alternative because when popped, these balloons do not have the propulsion that a rubber balloon does. After any type of balloon is done being played with or has popped, the balloon should be cut and carefully disposed of.
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