The tale of Gubarey Walas and fire! The hazards of gas-filled balloons
We have all witnessed ‘gubareywalas’ in and around the metropolis, with kids thronging to their cart and smiles reaching the temples when they get the string in their hands. Be it valentines, birthdays, weddings or functions, balloons are considered an essential part of auspicious occasions. Prices range from 10 rupees for the ordinary one to Rs.20 for the gas filled balloon, which remains afloat in the air. Balloon vendors have been in thisprofession for years. They roam streets day and night, alarming the kids of their arrival, who soon can be seen running out of their houses or fighting with their parents for money.
The Darker Side In poorer countries, vendors use Hydrogen gas to fill up balloons as it is much cheaply available than it’s safe alternative, Helium! Needless to say, hydrogen is a highly inflammable gas which can be very reactive if exposed to heat or flame! Several incidents have beenreported over time and spread where the hydrogen filled balloons exploded and resulted in severe burns and injuries to the people in the radius. However, little or no awareness is present in our society over this important issue and people continue to give potential bombs in the hands of their children.
On the supply side Majority vendors are aware of this potential danger, but can do little to avert it. Helium gas is expensive and can push the price of balloons up to rupees 40 to 50. So it eventually becomes unaffordable for the masses to afford the helium filled balloons which in turn threatens the livelihood of vendors. The gas vendors also face asthma and a number of other lung problems because of the nature of their profession.
Awareness Discouraging the vendors to fill hydrogen gas. Buying balloons with ordinary air rather then hydrogen Keeping cigarettes and all other flames away from the gas filled balloons. Washing the balloons before inflating them by mouth as the chemicals present on the balloons are toxic. Spreading this message by word of mouth, emails and all other media. Remember our little effort can save people from injuries and the pain which is faced by the unfortunate souls.