Birthday Balloon Suffocates Little Girl

Birthday Balloon Suffocates Little Girl
03-28-2009 Russ Neumeier / Flickr CC BY 2.0

An 8-year-old girl died in her Northeast Portland home on Wednesday after suffocating on a mylar balloon from her birthday party.


The victim had gone to bed at 9 p.m. But 20 minutes later when her parents checked on her, she wasn’t breathing. Pat McGloghlon, the little girl’s grandmother, said the victim was found not breathing by her father, KATU reports.

“My son went in to check on her and all he saw was a foot sticking out of her bed,” McGloghlon said. “Then he took the covers off and found the balloon on her head. He put her on the floor and cut the balloon off her head. He started CPR and we called 911.” The girl’s parents weren’t aware that a mylar balloon could be fatal.

Until emergency rescue teams could arrive, the girl’s father was administering CPR on her, KFOR reports. Unfortunately, she could not be revived. Officials say the accident could have resulted from the little girl sucking the helium out of the balloon. Her death has subsequently been declared accidental; no further investigation is being carried out.

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“It was a big mylar balloon, it’s like three-and-a-half feet tall. It was the number three,” McGloghlon said. “And they have different size fill holes. And the only thing we could think is that she opened it and put it over her head and she suffocated.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which “warns parents and caregivers of young children about the suffocation hazard presented by uninflated toy balloons and pieces of broken balloons,” balloons are the leading cause of deaths related to suffocation. The organization further notes that parents and guardians “do not allow children under the age of eight to play with uninflated balloons without supervision.”

McGloghlon said the parents of the child are distraught. “Right now, it’s too raw with everybody. What can you say? We all want to turn back yesterday and start over again,” she said. She said she hopes that sharing the story of her grandchild will warn other parents about the hazard of balloons.

“Everybody just hug their kids and tell them you love them,” she said.

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