Parents are routinely encouraged to place locks on cabinet doors, use baby gates to keep kids from going upstairs, and place covers over electrical outlets to protect babies, toddlers, and children. But even with all the precautions some parents take, unintentional deaths of children can be caused by seemingly benign household items, even something as small and seemingly harmless as the common writing pen.
According to the National Safety Council, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional deaths in America.
Pens are often found all over the house, and pen caps are easily lost and may make their way to the floor, within reach of a baby, toddler or curious child. The company named Bic understands the risk of a choking-related unintentional death, and they have designed their pens to minimize such a risk. The pen cap is typically intended to regulate pressure within the pen, and to keep ink from leaking out of it.
But some time ago, Bic changed the design of their pen tops to include a hole at the end of each one. On their frequently asked questions page, Bic gives the reason why: “In addition to help prevent the pen from leaking, all our BIC® caps comply with international safety standards that attempt to minimize the risk of children accidentally inhaling pen caps. Some of these vented caps, like that used for the BIC® Cristal®, has a little hole in the top to comply with the existing safety standards.”
That little hole has the potential of saving a person’s life in the event the pen cap is inhaled. As IJReview reported:
The manufacturer’s intent was to ensure that, in the event that a pen cap became lodged in a person’s throat, the hole would allow for the passage of air until help could arrive.