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Helium balloons ‘may come with warning’ after five-year-old boy died from putting head inside inflatable

Helium balloons ‘may come with warning’ after five-year-old boy died from putting head inside inflatable

The child tragically passed away in the ‘tragic accident' in June 2022

Helium balloons 'may come with warning' now after a five-year-old boy tragically died from putting head inside of one.

An inquest launched last year heard how Karlton Noah Donaghey, who hailed from Dunston in Tyne and Wear, died in a 'tragic accident' back in June of 2022 after having suffocated putting his head inside a helium balloon.

Karlton had been playing in his garden on a sunny evening, but was found unconscious in the living room 10 minutes after heading inside.

Karlton Noah Donaghey died in a ‘tragic accident on 29 June, 2022.
NCJ Media

He received emergency care from a neighbour, who was a nurse, along with medics from North East Ambulance Service and the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

However, despite them managing to keep the youngster alive, he had suffered a hypoxic brain injury and sadly died six days later.

At the conclusion of the inquest, held in September of last year, Assistant Coroner James Thompson said the death was 'every parent's nightmare', vowing to write to the public health department at Newcastle City Council asking them to consider what can be done to raise awareness of the risk posed by helium balloons.

He has now followed through in the promise, having written to the government demanding action to prevent deaths in similar cases.

Thompson raised his concerns about a lack of restrictions with purchasing helium balloons, 'particularly at locations of places of entertainment for children'.

He also flagged the lack of awareness people have of the dangers they pose, especially as there is often a lack of warning on the products themselves.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has since responded to the concerns following the 'tragic accident'.
NCJ Media

Since then, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has responded to the concerns.

The office also raised the possibility of the balloons having to come with a warning about the dangers of helium inhalation.

In a letter from the chief executive, the OPSS said it takes the safety of consumers, in particular children, 'very seriously' stating that the law in question requires toys, including helium-filled balloons, to be safe.

The letter begins: "Where there are any inherent risks or hazards associated with a toy, the Regulations require that warnings be provided on the product itself, and/or on the packaging or instructions.

"We believe that helium inhalation is an inherent risk to children and is reasonably foreseeable.

"Those responsible for the safety of helium-filled balloons placed on the market in the UK therefore have an obligation to provide information and warnings about any helium inhalation risks of their products."

It continued: "This includes products supplied at fairgrounds whether as prizes or purchases. Where this is not the case, those manufacturing or supplying such products may be in breach of the law."

The OPSS, however, did reveal that the current regulations do not require balloons, like the one involved in Karlton's tragic death, to come with any warning.

"The responsibility of safety rests with those who place toys on the market," the letter added.

Assistant Coroner James Thompson said the death was ‘every parent's nightmare’.
NCJ Media

Addressing the Office for Product Safety and Standards at the Department for Business and Trade, Thompson said: "During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern.

"In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken. In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.

"The matters of concern are as follows: the balloon which caused the death are freely available to purchase without restriction, particularly at locations of places of entertainment for children.”

Thompson said the ministry had until 18 December to respond to his report.

He added: "Parents and those responsible for supervision of children are not fully aware of the risks posed to young children of helium filled balloons.

"The balloon in question displayed no warning as to the potential risk to young children.

"In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe your organisation has the power to take such action."

Featured Image Credit: NCJ Media

Topics: News, UK News, Parenting, Health