Girl Dies Inhaling Helium
We've all done it. Open a balloon, suck the helium out, sound like cartoon character (when I was a kid we said "sound like Mickey Mouse" or "Alvin & The Chipmunks").
Most people probably don't have the "danger" in the back of their mind. I always did, but mainly because my mother frets a lot and worries about stuff that has a very small chance of ever happening (a little gift she handed down to me)!
But I just read a story that highlights the danger of inhaling helium.
A 14 year old girl in Eagle Point, Oregon, was at a party where people were taking turns inhaling from a tank of helium. It came her turn. She didn't want to, but her friends pressured her into doing it, downplaying the potential danger.
She took a "hit" off the tank. She passed out. And died. It was because of an "obstruction" in a blood vessel; just like when a scuba diver surfaces too fast, a gas bubble got into her bloodstream and blocked bloodflow to her brain.
(Also interesting - and I didn't know this - helium is also commonly sold as part of suicide kits, with hoods that attach to a helium tank for people who want to kill themselves. The helium crowds out the oxygen, asphyxiating a person.)