Yesterday, Pediatrics – once my cure for poorly-researched and overly-hyped stories about dangers facing kids, but increasingly my source of such material – published an article warning parents about children inhaling darts from homemade blowguns. According to the article, teens use the World Wide Web to learn how to make blowguns out of PVC pipe or other construction material that they presumably find lying around. Then some of these adolescent MacGyvers accidentally inhale their artisanal nail or pushpin darts, which then get lodged in their airways (apparently that darned Internet does not adequately stress the “blow” in “blowgun”).
It would be too easy for me to point out that the documented number of kids actually being injured inhaling homemade blowgun darts is statistically indistinguishable from zero.
It also would be too easy for me to hypothesize the overlap between the set of parents who knowing allow their children to make blowguns and the set of parents who heed the warnings of Pediatrics as being infinitesimally small (Figure 1).
The alternative? Glue.
Whoops. Other poorly cited articles already are incorrectly hyping the prevalence of kids sniffing glue.
Second alternative? Staples.
Nope. Cutters apparently use staples, according to Disney. Damn.
Third alternative? Old-fashioned dovetail joints.
So far I have been unable to locate a single article warning parents about the dangers of their children dabbling in genuine Amish craftsmanship, but the next issue of Pediatrics is only a month away.
As always, if you suspect that a child in your life is making blowguns, please warn them of the dangers. Otherwise, keep calm, know that such incidents are extremely rare, and focus on being physically and emotionally present to your kids.