Balloons are considered to be a symbol of celebration and merriment, especially for children whose birthday rooms are brimming with helium-infused balloons everywhere. But did anyone stop to think of the perilous hazard that this ‘bubbly’ material imposes on the children, with latex balloons being highly toxic? According to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, “Uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons are particularly hazardous because of the way they can stretch and mold to a child’s throat, making it impossible to breathe. Balloons are also very hard to remove from a child’s mouth or throat because of their smooth, slippery texture.”
Confirming our fears, a Tennessee 7-year-old girl died while playing with a latex balloon one week after her birthday, reported by CBS station WVLT and her mother Channa Kelly’s social media post(via People). Warning other parents on the dangers of balloons to children, Kelly took to her Facebook page to address the concern, saying that she bought a large rainbow number 7 balloon inflated with helium and “approximately 10 Roblox themed latex balloons” for her 7-year-old daughter Alexandra Kelly’s birthday on Sept. 24. She further reported that her daughter was popping the inflated balloons a week after her birthday on October 1st, and Kelly had not paid heed to her daughter then, not realizing the dangers of a balloon, turned around to find her daughter face down on the floor.
People reported Kelly revisiting the event, saying, “As a parent, I was always aware of the choking hazard of latex balloons, but never imagined that there was such a risk regarding these very large” balloons, Kelly said in her post, adding, “I thought for a second that she fell asleep but then noticed [that the] balloon was around her head. I quickly removed the balloon, called 911, and began CPR right away. I asked the 911 operators to remind me of the steps of CPR because it had been so long since my last certification and I didn’t want to mess up.” However, she revealed that CPR could not revive her baby back to the land of the living.
Kelly’s post on Facebook continued, “On Sunday, October 1st my entire world collapsed around me all because I was unaware of the risk surrounding these types of balloons. It is unknown whether she passed away from helium poisoning or suffocation. We are currently awaiting the preliminary results for the final determination of her cause of death. I was told that this could take up to 4 to 6 months.”
Clinton Police told WVLT that the cause of death was still being investigated, and no reports on that have been released so far by the authorities. According to People, her obituary describes Alexandra as “a loving and kindhearted little girl” who “loved to sing and dance and make her mama laugh.” Kelly wrote in her Facebook post that Alexandra “made all [her] dreams come true,” adding, “She was full of curiosity and had to ask questions about everything… She was an excellent conversationalist and amazed me with her ability to understand and express herself. She put a smile on everyone’s face and brought so much joy and laughter into my life.”
Relating to the case, Kelly’s sister-in-law Kristi Tucker set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the arrangements that followed her niece’s death. It has raised over $12,000 “in hopes of covering her funeral costs and helping her Momma during this difficult time.”
Kelly continued in her post by spreading awareness and hoping parents were on high alert on the subject of balloons at their kid’s party, ” I hope and pray that this will prevent and save the life of other children,” she wrote, “I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience the pain and devastation that the loss of a child brings.”
“That’s what took my baby, it was her birthday balloon.”