|Updated: 10/04/2011 7:59 am
||Published: 10/03/2011 11:04 am
The video is unsettling. Just by searching on YouTube, you can see what your teen could be pressured into: Huffing Freon.
In one video, a teen breathes from a balloon and is so disoriented, he stumbles, knocking things off of a table.
In another, a teen huffs, then falls to the ground, drooling.
"You're drooling like a little baby."
There’s video after video of teens experimenting by inhaling the coolant commonly found in air conditioning systems. Freon causes a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication.
"Even a single use can result in sudden death," Dr. Shan Yin of Cincinnati Children's Hospital said.
It’s a fact Gail Henry knows heartbreakingly well. Her 18-year-old college student son Jacob was found dead next to an air conditioning unit with a bag over his head. Gail says he had been huffing Freon.
"Huffing is a game of Russian roulette," Gail said.
The latest American Association of Poison Control Center report says that Freon huffing killed at least two teens in 2009. More than 2,000 more were treated in the hospital.
"Huffing affects everybody in your family and all your friends because when [it] does kill you they have to live on," Gail said.
Huffing Freon can literally cause your lungs to freeze, resulting in frostbite to your airway and sudden cardiac death. It can cause you to lose consciousness and result in brain damage.
"Parents should be very concerned if they find out their child is using this," Dr. Yin said.
A padlocked gate now surrounds this air conditioning company’s compressor. It had so many problems with people stealing Freon that the owners finally had to fence it off.
In another youtube surveillance video, a homeowner taped teens sneaking up to an AC unit, crouching behind it, looking around then taking off.
"Yeah it is crazy, it's sad." Brian Arlinghaus of Arlinghaus Heating and Air said.
Arlinghaus says he gets calls from customers who think they have a slow Freon leak, which later turns out to be theft – which is easy to do in mere seconds.
"These are things now in our industry that we've got to be looking for and protecting the youth from having accessibility from deadly refrigerants that can kill you," Arlinghaus said.
These Freon locks could be a life saver. Your AC service person can install one on your compressor, which makes it impossible to let Freon out without a key.
Gail is now warning teens about the dangers of Freon huffing. She urges parents to have locks installed and keep a close eye on their teens, because the youtube videos show the shocking reality of what they could be trying.
"Don't ever considering doing it, because that five seconds of high you get when you do it isn't worth dying over," Gail said.
The Freon locks cost about $25. New air conditioners on the market will have an internal hose which makes it more difficult to access the Freon.
Experts say prevention is the best way for parents to combat this problem. Make sure you talk to your kids and tell them how dangerous it is. If you suspect a problem, seek professional help immediately. Freon does not show up in drug tests.