Huffing is incredibly dangerous. That’s where kids breathe in toxic fumes to get a brief high – like from paint thinner, spray paint or gasoline. It’s called “inhalant abuse,” and 1 in 4 kids in junior high have tried it. Unfortunately, there’s a newer, even riskier trend: Huffing Freon – the chemical that lets fridges and air conditioners cool things down. 

Dr. Shan Yin of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital says that Freon causes light-headedness and euphoria, and you may pass out. The high only lasts about 5 seconds. But using it even once can cause instant toxicity, and sudden cardiac death. And even if you don’t die, inhaling Freon can freeze your lungs to the point of frostbite, and cause brain damage from a lack of oxygen. Thousands of young people have already been hospitalized – and several have died, including a 12-year-old girl in California who inhaled Freon from her family’s A/C unit. She instantly passed out, and was pronounced brain-dead at a local hospital.

According to the anti-drug website Inhalants.org, huffing of any kind can cause damage to your brain, heart and liver – and even kill. And you can die the first time you huff Freon.

But Freon is becoming increasingly popular based on the number of online videos showing kids doing it. And air conditioning repairmen are being called out in record numbers to service units that have been repeatedly emptied of Freon.

What’s the fix here? 

  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of Freon. 

  • And if you have an A/C system – especially an older unit where the tubes are easily accessible – install a safety locking-cap. They cost about $25 bucks, and keep anyone from accessing the Freon without a key.