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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » balloons and little kids (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

amagician
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Hobart Tasmania Australia
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I read a few posts about this in another thread and felt it is important enough to have it's own line?
I have had a $5 million (Australian mini dollar) liability policy for years but I would never use balloons for the very young children because there is, I feel, no way of avoiding a significant chance of injury to a child. I lose work because of this.
Some performers tell me to just give the balloons to the parents or caregivers and then it's their responsibility but that is a bean-counter answer to me.
Most balloon companies have warnings on their packaging and I feel they should be heeded by us.
Have a Magic day
John Williams
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Peter Marucci
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Tom Myers, of T. Myers Balloons of Texas, suggests three years old is the dividing line.

Makes sense.

In fact, Tom sells stickers showing a baby's face and a big X across it, with words to the effect: Balloons -- keep them out of the mouths of babes.

It's advice that I generally follow, although you can't always say "no" to an insistent parent.

Which brings me to part two:
Sometimes you've just got to "go with the flow" and risk it.

John, in his post above, raises an interesting point. Since neither of us is in the U.S., that diminishes our chances of being sued (we're less litigious in Canada and, I hope, in Tasmania).

Yet, you still don't want to hurt anyone, or have anyone get hurt, with a balloon; but life is full of risks!

Performers who used to go to hospitals to bring a little cheer into the young patients' lives with balloons, are now being told not to do it because of an increased number of latex-allergy cases.

Schools won't let kids bring peanut-butter sandwiches on the premises because of nut allergies.

California wants to ban smoking even outdoors!

But, in the midst of all this Big Brother insanity, we have to remember that we are our own keepers and we can't be protected from everything.

So it strikes me that the use of common sense would go a lot farther than legislation.

Sorry if this turned into a bit of a rant but this "creeping political correctness" infuriates me; in the interests of our own "self-protection", the very essence of life is being gutted.

cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
amagician
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Hobart Tasmania Australia
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Peter, I agree with the theme of your post, but, would point out that I am an unreconstructed male chauvinist who detests the PC push and will continue to refuse to give balloons to the little kids solely on safety grounds.

I have great admiration for T Myers and recommend his books (they're in my personal library but I don't have any for sale).

On the age question, the warnings I have seen generally say 6 year olds and that was the cut-off age on "protecting kids from themselves" rules enforced by State legislation here in Tasmania. That may have changed, I don't try to keep up with the paper pushers.

The State had a requirement for a warning on packets of waterbomb balloons years ago. They dropped it for no apparent reason.

A thing which bugs me is a performer sucking the tail of a balloon dog to pull a bubble up to the end - next some kid is doing the same thing.
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John Williams
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Mr Phil
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Tilton, New Hampshire
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As Balloon twisting is a big part of my work and life and the fact I have children under 3 (The Biggest part of my life). I have thought long and hard on this issue.

My personal policy is that I will do everything not to give a balloon to a child under 3. I got from T Myers somthings called Floating Animals (see link below)
http://www.tmyers.com/acc/accindex.html
and I give these instead. Usually the little darling will put it in their mouth and I will gently point this out to parents. I do feel it is important to be fair (despite what my daughters think) and give all the children at the table or Birthday party something. However, I would be devastated if a child choked due to a balloon. Sucking the end of a balloon to make a bubble is not only a bad example for our littlest clients but is gross and a real turn off to our potential clients.. "here kid have some spit with that poodle"

Smile

I do agree with Peter, that you must go with the flow of a gig, and will bend this policy on occassion. This is due to my love of the ankle biters and I hate to let someone go without a balloon. I am finding that the Floating Animals stop a lot of the problems.

That is my 1.5 cents worth

Mr Phil Smile Smile
Mr. Phil & Co. Quality Family Entertainment, Guaranteed! (603) 286-3029 WWW.mrphilandco.com Snail Mail to: P.O. Box 31 Tilton, NH 03276
Scott F. Guinn
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I NEVER do balloons for kids under 5 or 6. As a matter of fact, I have given up doing balloons almost completely. Besides the choking hazard (and I know of a guy who was financially ruined when a 4 year old bit a balloon and it choked her to death--the parents sued and won 11 MILLION, so even your 5 mil insurance would be almost worthless), there is another, much more common injury possible: eye damage. A recent report by a child-protection watchdog group estimates that next to skateboards, Bicycles and roller skates, balloons are the top cause of injuries and fatalities to children. This article was in the December issue of one of the consumer mags--can't remember offhand which one.

Why chance it? Do Oragami or some other giveaway.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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WindsorWizard
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Balloon Sculpturing is a beautiful and wonder filled ART when presented as such, with all of the fun and gags that go along with it.

These days, it is an OPTION available at extra cost for small parties that I do, and all souvenirs, including my sculptures, are given to the responsible parent to give to their children and guests as they see fit, AFTER I have long gone from the venue.

We suggest to the parents that they choose which ones go to whom as the children leave for home, usually picked up by their responsible parent AND we tell them the rules of safety for having a balloon during the show of creating them.

1 - You will be given one by Mrs. So n So when you leave to go home with your mom or dad.

2 - Do not put them in your mouth, it's been in mine!

3 - Do not try to untwist them, it can break!

4 - Do not touch anything hot or sharp with it because it will make it.... kids fill in!

There is enough time usually during the show of creating them to re-enforce these simple safety rules and common sense applies to most.

By giving to the parents, it is now their responsibility to also follow your example and suggestions of safe handling and surely this has eliminated many a potential problem for me and my clients.

I always make some extra ones as an assurance in case of breakage, and tell the client so, and this way they can appreciate my forethought of what can happen after I have left for another party. One can break and leave the hostess short on handing them out.

It is usually suggested that these creations are not suitable for (in my case anyway) any children under four years of age.

Hope this personal experience helps. Like Peter said, as Canadian entertainers, we fortunately are not exposed as much to the legal problems that other countries seem to thrive on. However, it is still best to think ahead... if in doubt, leave it out!
EVERYTHING is possible...
If you simply, just BELIEVE!
~ ~ ~ Johnny Ould ~ ~ ~
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Sir T
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I am a balloon twister first and foremost, I would like to point something out to eveyone. When you buy balloons for twisting, 260q's, they have a warning on them which reads (In part):

"Warning, choking hazard-Children under 8 years can choke or suffocate......."

If you give a balloon to a child under the age listed on the warning, YOU as the entertainer WILL be held liable, as you violated the product warning.

As a general rule, if you violate the product warning, your insurance will not pay.

Just something to consider.

Kevin
Scott F. Guinn
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"Great Scott!" aka "Palms of Putty" & "Poof Daddy G"
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Excellent point, Kevin!
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
My Lybrary Page
Dennis Michael
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Let's not forget the family pet. Dogs and Cats do not like balloons. When they POP dogs may release their insides and I don't mean from the mouth. Nice impression on your host and the kids make a fuss...Talk about a distraction!

The squeaking noise frightens many dogs and they will visciously attack the balloon. Watch your hands! Even the one's you let fly in the air. The pencil balloons have been known to be swallowed by dogs and then go through a major doggie operation to get that balloon out of their intestine.

Can you imagine this comedy of errors: In the middle of your magic show you decide to do some balloon work. The noise scares the dog, which proceeds to deposit little present of liquid and lumps of smelly stuff or the dog bites your hand and any hand of the cute little kid with the balloon. You now have a crying kid, blood dripping on the white plush rugs, with little smelly piles of doggie poo. The dog eats the balloon and starts choking, throwing up but the balloon does not come out. Only doggie bile all over the rug and furniture. The owner realizes he must take his dog to the doggie emergency room, the kids to the hospital, hire a rug cleaning company, and you want to get paid!
Dennis Michael
amagician
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Hobart Tasmania Australia
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And I was only concerned for the kids Smile
Thanks Dennis
Have a Magic day
John Williams
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Dennis Michael
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I still do balloons and for kids under eight. The above never happened, but I do know dogs do swallow the ballons and some are scared of them and some take pleasure out of busting them.

A balloon act is just fine, but not for those who will put the broken parts in their mouth or suck the nipple end thinking it is a bottle or pacifier.
Dennis Michael
amagician
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Hobart Tasmania Australia
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"A balloon act is just fine, but not for those who will put the broken parts in their mouth or suck the nipple end thinking it is a bottle or pacifier."
And it is very dumb when the performer puts the end of the balloon animal's tail in his mouth to suck a bubble.
Unhygenic (sp?) and a very bad example. Smile
Have a Magic day
John Williams
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WindsorWizard
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All said and done... It makes us wonder if we should really be doing the balloon bit! EXCEPT... It's part of our Bread & Butter, although... Gravy might be a better choice of words, and I for one depend on the revenue that my Optional Balloon Sculpturing provides.

Sooo... It will stay, along with the thoughts and ideas of my peers here, to bear in mind that we as performers must be responsible in how we present our creations to the public. Would we allow one of our youngsters or grandchildren to have our rubber creation without some firm safety advice presented with it?

Again... If in doubt, leave it out or as I do, give it to the responsible adult to decide if it shall be a toy or a creation to admire from afar upon an unreachable shelf in the child's room.
EVERYTHING is possible...
If you simply, just BELIEVE!
~ ~ ~ Johnny Ould ~ ~ ~
VISIT US: Windsor Magic Place & Cases For Magic=A Free Report!
Sir T
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It is not uncommon to put balloon pet care tags on a balloon, which also has a warning and your contact information.

One side reads:

This balloon pet's name is:
and belongs to...

The reverse side has your warning and contact information.

This will solve a few problems and promote you for other parties.

Kevin Smile
amagician
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This doesn't solve the problem at all in my opinion. The critical point is whether you give balloon animals to small children.
If you do this and something bad happens, the responsibility is likely to be sheeted home to you. tag or no tag. The tag will only make it easier for their lawyer to contact you.
How many kids or parents/carers are likely to read instructions during a party?
And it doesn't make what you have done any safer for the child which is the most important point.
Have a Magic day
John Williams
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Peter Marucci
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In the event of legal action, the warning label is simply evidence that the balloon-twister knew about the danger.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
amagician
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Hobart Tasmania Australia
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and we don't want to put any child or parent (or ourselves) through that traumatic experience anyway, do we?
Not for a couple of extra dollars or whatever. Smile
Have a Magic day
John Williams
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conceptor
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In the grand scheme of things, what are the risks truly? I do balloons, I warn the kids and the parents about the kids putting them in their mouths. I have the parents sign a waiver. (Never been a problem) I have a 3 Million dollar liability policy. Here are some choking mortality rates for the US:
http://epbiwww.cwru.edu/mmwrpdf/vol46/mm4650.pdf

Just for fun, here is a list of lightning statistics for the US:

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/ltg/crh_ltg_stats_usa.html

The comparison is worth doing.


Here is a question to all. Of the 1001 members that are currently registered how many have personally had any problems with balloons and kids?

Not "I knew someone who ....." or "my buddy...." I mean personally.

I am not saying that everyone should get a balloon. I use 4 as my dividing line.

Do your research and make an educated decision.
amagician
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My decision is made. Like the balloon companies and our legislators (not about balloons but choking hazards in general) 6 years of age is my minimum.

Whatever anybody else does or doesn't do is their responsibility and their business, not mine.

But one kid loosing an eye or choking is too many whatever the time-frame.

And liability is just one factor, not necessarily the main one. Smile
Have a Magic day
John Williams
http://www.ezymagic.com/
more tricks than you can shake a wand at
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