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As a mom of many kids, I’m admittedly always on the lookout for quick and easy ways to simplify our busy life. Paper plates? A frequent staple when our schedule is hectic. Carpooling? Sign me up, I’m always game for reducing my time behind the wheel. Reusable water balloons? I saw an ad recently for the magnetic, refillable variety of every kid’s favorite summer mess-maker and thought hey, I should give those a try. 

But after reading the viral post circulating on social media from Ohio mom Kelley Whitty, I’m glad I haven’t gotten around to “add to cart” just yet. 

Whitty wrote a post sharing the scary few hours her daughter, 8-year-old Leah, went through last week. Whitty writes


Today, I get a phone call from Jenn that while swimming, something flew in Leah’s nose and it would not come out. Initially, I chuckled [because] she’s 8, what could possibly get in her nose that she can’t get out. Leah got out of the pool, wiped her face with a towel and immediately started screaming. I could hear Leah crying and freaking out that it burned and stung and I could hear the fear in Jenn’s voice that something was really wrong, so immediately made the choice to meet them and get her to Childrens.

The worried mother took her daughter to a local hospital, where she says it wasn’t immediately clear what was causing the girl so much pain. 

Whitty continues: 

They triaged us and every nurse and PCA we encountered was completely baffled as to what was up her nose. The doctors came in and again, completely mind-blown. Leah was freaking out so bad and screaming in pain so they had to sedate her. Once sedated they removed not 1, not 2 but 6 MAGNETS that had bonded to her septum. The force of these tiny magnets was so strong it perforated her septum just in the time it happened to the time they were successfully removed. These magnets fell out of a reusable water balloon and must have been on the towel, unbeknownst to her, when she wiped her face and immediately went into her nose.

Whitty says discovering the tiny magnets was a surprise to everyone—and that parents everywhere should avoid letting their kids play with the trendy water toys. 

We are super thankful this wasn’t worse than it could’ve been but these are marketed to young kids, with no warning at all, and clearly could result in severe injury especially if ingested. The research team at Children’s actually came down to the ER and met with us so they could put out a publication warning parents of the blind danger these toys can have. We’re all still trying to wrap our heads around it. We’re home now and she’s feeling good. (Video at the end if you want a chuckle) Lastly, we have a follow-up with ENT to make sure there is no permanent damage to her septum. If you have these in your house, THROW THEM AWAY.

Whitty included several photos in her post showing the tiny magnets after they were removed from Leah’s nose and of the young girl in the emergency room. 

RELATED: “THROW THEM OUT.” Mom Warns of Tub Toy Dangers after Toddler’s Terrifying Infection

The post has been shared thousands of times on Facebook, with many parents saying they’ll be throwing their reusable water balloons away immediately after reading Leah’s story. 

And while it’s one of those things that could be filed under “fluke accident,” it’s always good to know when a danger to our children exists. If you have this product in your arsenal of summer toys this year, make sure to check them over carefully and consider throwing out any made with tiny magnets and opt for self-sealing silicone or foam varieties (like these or these) instead. 

Here’s a video from Busy Toddler where she shows the difference between the balloons. 


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