Teens Inhale Homemade Blowgun Darts Making Weapons From Internet Instructions, Say Doctors

Teens inhaled homemade blowgun darts and then ended up in the doctor’s office — where two of the three teen boys in question initially fibbed about what was causing them to cough and wheeze.

That’s the rather startling case report published yesterday in Pediatrics by a team of doctors from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The surgeons want to warn others to be on the look-out for teens who might accidentally inhale the homemade blowgun darts.


The doctors said that they were sparked to publish the warning after they saw three cases in three months of teen boys accidentally breathing the darts into their lungs — which they said could have resulted in the boys dying if they hadn’t received prompt treatment. They claimed that they found 20 cases of internet instructions online for how to make the weapons.

They’re slackers. I think I found that many on YouTube alone.

So what’s the problem? It turns out that homemade blowguns often have an open tube against the mouth. That means users can actually suck the dart backward into their mouths. And, because users take a deep breath before blowing the dart through the gun, they could actually inhale sharply enough to draw the object dangerously deep into their airways.

There’s another problem. Making homemade blowguns from internet instructions can be illegal or against a parent’s house rules or both.

So getting prompt treatment was complicated by the fact that two teens concealed the fact that they’d inhaled the blowgun darts in the first place. Fortunately, the radiologists spotted the needle-shaped darts on the X-ray.

Medical Daily noted that removing the blowgun darts wasn’t necessarily a simple process. Dr. Kris Jatana, the study’s lead author, said: “It requires surgery under general anesthesia… Most of the time we’re able to remove these in children without long-term (complications)…But there are other times when we have to perform open surgery through the neck.”

However, all three teens were treated successfully.

So is the internet really teeming with information about how to make homemade blowgun darts? Actually, it is.

Here’s one of many that I plucked randomly from YouTube where a guy shows off his homemade blowgun project:

Here’s a YouTube video that has already been viewed by over a quarter of a million people since it was posted in 2009. Unlike some advice out there, it does carry legal and safety warnings:

They note that the homemade blowgun darts are illegal in Canada, the UK, California, and Massachusetts, and many other places. It’s up to you to check the local laws in your area.

I don’t want my readers in jail for something stupid like making blowgun darts.

And I don’t want to see any more teens inhaling homemade blowgun darts ending up in doctors’ offices.

[blowgun dart photo by Julia Rubinic via Wikimedia]