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8-Year-Old Suffocated by Balloon on Birthday

The Short of It

An 8-year-old girl went to bed at her home in Portland after her birthday party, and was found not breathing by her father 20 minutes later with a Mylar balloon over her head.

The Lowdown

This is just so sad. The girl's father apparently found his daughter unconscious, with the 3-foot balloon over her face and her foot sticking out from under her blankets. So he cut the balloon off and performed CPR until medical personnel arrived. They spent nearly an hour trying to revive the child, sadly to no avail.

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The girl's death has been ruled an accident. The family thinks she must have tried to open the balloon to suck the helium out by putting it over her head.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that balloons are the leading cause of death by suffocation among children in the U.S., although most accidents involve deflated balloons or the parts of balloons.

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When it comes to completely inflated balloons, however, the CPSC says it doesn't believe they present a hazard to young children. Obviously, this girl's family feels quite differently, and they are now urging other parents to take their story seriously to avoid a similar tragedy.

"What can you say? We all want to turn back yesterday and start over again," the girl's grandmother told KATU. "Everybody just hug their kids and tell them you love them."

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The Upshot

This tragedy hits very close to home for me. I purchase Mylar balloons for almost every celebratory occasion, and I've even let my kids open them up to inhale the helium from time to time. It's a sobering reminder that you never know what seemingly innocent item can turn into a weapon, and you can never be too careful.

Our thoughts are with the family as they cope with the loss of their child.

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