Huffing Freon--a hidden danger in your home you probably don't know about

Huffing Freon--a hidden danger in your home you probably don't know about

By Stephanie Graham. CREATED Nov 12, 2011

We want to warn you the video attached to this story is graphic.

It's shocking and it's fast becoming the latest trend with teen huffing. Kids are now inhaling freon, the gas found in air conditioning systems--sometimes with fatal consequences.

The video is unsettling, and by just searching on YouTube you can see what your teen could be peer pressured into: Huffing freon. In one video, a teen breathes from a balloon and is so disoriented he stumbles, knocking stuff off a table. In another video a teen huffs, then falls to the ground, and is drooling.

There's video after video of teens experimeting by inhaling the coolant commonly found in air conditioning systems. Freon causes a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication.

Dr. Shan Yin works for Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

"Even a single use can result in sudden death," Dr. Yin explains.

Gail Henry knows that heartbreakingly well. In tears she tells us about her son Jacob. The 18-year-old college student was found dead next to an air conditioning unit with a bag over his head, she says he had been huffing freon. The latest American Association of Poison Control Center report says freon huffing killed at least two teens in 2009, and more than 2,000 were treated in the hospital.

"Huffing affects everybody in your family, and all your friends because when does kill you they have to live on," Gail says.

Huffing freon can literally cause your lungs to freeze, frostbite to your airway, sudden cardiac death, cause you to lose consciouness and brain damage.

Many air conditioning owners and AC companies are now locking off their compressors so people don't steal freon.

Brian Arlinghaus owns Arlinghaus Heating and Air. He says, "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."

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 these 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," she exclaims.

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 get professional help immediately.  Freon does not show up on drug tests.