A BOY of five died after "putting a dinosaur balloon over his head to surprise his family", as a coroner issued an urgent warning.
Karlton Donaghey was overcome by helium gas while briefly left alone at his Tyne and Wear home, an inquest has found.
Now Newcastle assistant coroner James Thompson has written to the government demanding action to prevent further similar deaths.
He warned about it being too easy to buy helium balloons.
Karlton's inquest in September had heard how Karlton was given the large green balloon as a treat during a trip to The Hoppings funfair in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with parents Lisa and Karl.
He was then playing in the garden of his family's home in Dunston, Tyne and Wear, before going inside – where his mum found him unconscious ten minutes later.
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Lisa believes her son had been trying to climb into the dinosaur balloon – "the same size as him" – to wear as a costume to surprise his family.
Karlton was taken to hospital but died six days later, on June 29 last year.
His death has been described as "every parent's nightmare".
Mr Thompson has now written to the Office for Product Safety and Standards at the Department for Business and Trade.
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He highlighted fears about a shortage of restrictions on buying helium balloons "particularly at locations of places of entertainment for children".
And he raised concerns over "the lack of awareness of the dangers they might pose and the lack of warnings on the balloons themselves of the potential risks".
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, finding Karlton suffered a hypoxic brain injury after being "quickly overcome by the helium".
Mr Thompson's newly-revealed letter to the government states: "During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern.
"In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.
"In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.
Action should be taken to prevent future deaths
"The matters of concern are as follows: the balloon which caused the death are freely available to purchase without restriction, particularly at locations of places of entertainment for children.
"Parents and those responsible for supervision of children are not fully aware of the risks posed to young children of helium filled balloons.
"The balloon in question displayed no warning as to the potential risk to young children.
"In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe your organisation has the power to take such action."
He said the ministry has until December 18 to respond.
Mum Lisa had paid tribute to Karlton at the start of the inquest.
She said: "I just want everyone to understand that Karlton was an incredibly precious boy.
"He was our only child and he was precious to everyone he met.
"This tragic accident took him away from everyone who loved him.
"As his mum and dad we will carry him with us forever."
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Mr Thompson said at the hearing's end: "Karlton was simply a young boy with a curious mind looking for new experiences and dare I say some fun.
"I want to make it clear that no-one could have predicted what would happen to Karlton that day – and it is every parent's nightmare what did happen to Karlton that day."
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