Helium Gas - Balloon Gas Safety – Don’t Be a Daffy Duck
There is a well-known party trick where people suck gas out of helium balloons to talk funny.
I admit it -- I’ve done it -- but never again!
The amusement of talking like Donald Duck is overshadowed by the dangers involved with inhaling helium balloon gas.
It’s not only ‘daffy’...
It can even be fatal!
Why Does Helium Make You Sound Funny?
When you speak, you rely on your vocal chords to make the sounds.
The air passing through your larynx causes the vocal chords to vibrate.
The mouth, lips and tongue then convert the sound into speech.
When you inhale helium, it affects the timbre of your voice, because helium is much less dense than air.
This is a result of sound travelling faster through helium than air, as well as helium favouring high pitched sounds.
Danger of Asphyxiation
Helium is not poisonous, as it is an inert gas.
However, it can be an asphyxiant when inhaled instead of normal air.
This is known as Inert Gas Asphyxiation.
Breathing just helium, or any inert gas, creates an absence of oxygen.
The helium displaces the air, including the required oxygen, in your lungs.
This can cause your body’s oxygen level to drop to hazardously low levels, initiating Hypoxia.
Symptoms of Hypoxia
The resulting Hypoxiais a condition that develops when the body is deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen.
Generalised hypoxia can cause dizziness, disorientation, abnormal heart function, unconsciousness and even death.
Risk of an Embolism or Ruptured Lung
Inhaling helium too deeply or directly from a gas cylinder is even more dangerous.
The pressurised gas can cause an embolism. An embolism is a blockage of a blood vessel which, in this case, is caused by a gas bubble.
This can cause a stroke, seizures or death.
The inhalation of pressurised gas can also damage the lungs.
Air sacs in the lungs are likely to rupture and death follows almost immediately, as victims literally drown in their own blood.
Be Safe with Helium Balloon Gas
Don’t be a daffy duck! Here are some safety tips to keep you, your family and friends safe:
- Don’t inhale helium balloon gas. The risks far outweigh the momentary amusement.
- Ensure helium balloon gas and other gases are only used for their intended purposes.
- Always follow the safety warnings.
- Make sure children are always supervised when playing with balloons.