Oh-so-enlightened Europe. Please. Please show us the way to the promised land. What's that? You say that it involves the banning of children from blowing up balloons? They can't blow whistles either? Even at parties? Oh. Especially at parties. OK, then. Yeah, never mind.
According to our friends across the pond at The Telegraph, "The EU toy safety directive, agreed and implemented by Government, states that balloons must not be blown up by unsupervised children under the age of eight, in case they accidentally swallow them and choke." In case they choke? From blowing up a balloon? How would that happen...exactly? And what is up with the age of eight cutoff? What happens after eight that makes you no longer vulnerable to that little piece of latex?
And all of those rhetorical technicalities aside, here's the real question: Were so many children, apparently under the age of eight, choking and dying as a result of unsupervised balloon inflation that there needed to be a law enacted? Of course not! But there could be. And according to some member of the EU (who probably wanted to remain anonymous because even he/she knows how asinine this is) These safety standards have been agreed by...in order to prevent every parent's worst nightmare." Oh, for cryin' out loud.
You can't ban everything that might result in "every parent's worst nightmare" because if you did, you'd have to ban everything! That's why they're called "accidents". They will happen in one form or another. Not blowing up balloons is not the issue! But the EU seems to think that it is the balloons AND other things that are an issue. For instance, they have also done the following:
Imposed "...restrictions on how noisy toys, including rattles or musical instruments, are allowed to be."
"All teddie bears meant for children under the age of three will now have to be fully washable because EU regulators are concerned that dirty cuddly toys could spread disease and infection."
"Whistle blowers, that scroll out into a a long coloured paper tongue when sounded...are now classed as unsafe for all children under 14."
And there is clearly no reasoning with these people, as one EU official (again, not being named for fear of being tarred and feathered by angry villagers) was quoted as saying, "You might say that small children have been blowing up balloons for generations, but not anymore and they will be safer for it." What does he mean I "might say" that children have been blowing up balloons for generations? Yes, of course I would say that...because they have! And are they really going to be "safer" because of this asinine law? I doubt it. According to the CPSC (The US Consumer Product Safety Commission), since 1973, 110 children have died as a result of suffocation involving an uninflated balloon or a piece of a balloon. That's 38 years. That's barely 3 kids per year. I'm pretty sure that anything with that low of an incident rate is nothing that you're going to be able to fix with a law. If there were scores of children dying from uninflated balloons, perhaps I could see the need. But this is nothing more than just crappy luck. And as hard as they try, they can't regulate good luck. Thus, I'd really appreciate it if they'd stop acting like they can.