A MOTHER has warned netizens about party balloons in Davao City being inflated with hydrogen instead of helium after it caused minor wounds to her son.
On Sunday, February 7, 2021, Tina Co took to Facebook to warn mothers like herself of the dangers of party balloons bought from a Dabawenyo party supplier during the birthday celebration of her son. She said in the post that they discovered that instead of using helium, the supplier used hydrogen.
“Last night my kids played with the biggest [balloon] filled with what I assumed was helium. It was attractive and had tiny balloons inside it. They tossed the balloon like a beach ball and we even joined in a couple of times. My son took it with him to the bedroom because he wanted to pee and suddenly we heard a LOUD explosion and the force rocked our house. We even saw a bit of spark/fire along with the boom,” Co said on her Facebook post.
"We rushed to check on him and bits of balloon skins were everywhere. Some got stuck on the ceiling and some melted on the floor tiles. Miraculously, they missed my son’s eyes and face and the only injury he got was a bit of burn on his forearm from the melted balloon skin that landed on him. Thank God for protecting my son!" She said.
In an interview with SunStar Davao, she said they had the balloons for three days already, as their son’s birthday was on February 3 and the blast happened on the evening of February 6.
She said the balloons do not look and smell different compared to ordinary party balloons. The only difference was the explosion was so strong that it left a burnt stench in their room afterward.
She informed the party balloons supplier and said it apologized and admitted to using hydrogen. Co said hydrogen is a cheaper alternative to inflating party balloons.
Without feeling the need to mention the supplier, Co said she posted their experience to warn more parents and other suppliers of the grave threat that hydrogen-filled balloons have for humans. She clarified in her post that their bedroom did not have an open flame or lit candle at the time of the explosion. Their ceiling lights were also LED (light-emitting diodes).
“Upon intense googling, we discovered that if hydrogen was used to inflate the balloon, it can react with oxygen along with friction to create energy. The big balloon contained tiny balloons inside, which was a recipe for disaster. Friction could have triggered the explosion plus the leaking of oxygen/hydrogen. No need for a spark or flame. It’s a ticking time bomb if enough friction is made,” she said.
"The main goal of this post is to warn parents not to let their kids play with these kinds of balloons unless it is you who inflated it with your own breath or balloon pump. However innocent-looking those balloons are, we don’t know what kind of gas they used to inflate it,” she added.
Their son is currently in better condition after getting minor burns on his forearm from the melted balloon. She said they are only thankful that it did not hit his eyes and caused permanent damage.
In other countries like Thailand and Malaysia, cases of hydrogen-filled balloons exploding and causing harm to people have also been recorded.
On December 13, 2019, The Thaiger published an article about the Health Ministry in Thailand warning their citizens of the danger of hydrogen in balloons.
“Explosion of balloons are reported frequently, since most balloons contain hydrogen, which is inflammable, causing the balloons to be explosive if they are near heat or spark. Besides, if balloons are put together, one explosion will cause others, harming people nearby or even killing them,” Dr Panpimol Wipulakorn, Thailand Department of Health chief, was quoted saying.
In October 2019, balloons in an event in Malaysia organized by their Ministry of Education exploded, injuring at least 16 individuals. The balloons were suspected to contain hydrogen instead of helium.
In Davao City, although a local ordinance had been made banning the release of flying balloons and lanterns for environmental protection, there has yet to be records of ordinances approved and implemented to ensure that party suppliers use helium to inflate their balloons instead of hydrogen.