Lawn darts have become the iconic symbol of a bygone age. Actually, it's become several different symbols depending on what you're discussing. If you're feeling nostalgic, it's about an era when we didn't have to worry about liability and lawyers, a more innocent time. If you're all about product safety, it's a signpost in the black forest of the dark ages when the government and corporate america were allowed to perpetrate crimes against the consumer.
Now, I never owned a set of lawn darts personally, but some of the neighborhood kids had them and I must've a very well-developed sense of self-preservation by then. I remember clearing thinking to myself that I'd be buggered if I was going to play catch with something that had a shaft of sharp, spikey metal on it. That, of course, was the accepted way of playing lawn darts among a group of kids. You either tossed it to one another or you put the circular hoop at your feet and pitched it at a friend who had a similar hoop at his feet. I never was certain which scored more points, landing it in the smallest circle or embedding it in your friend's thigh.
That's one thing that people tend to forget in the fog of time. These were not SMALL darts. It's hard to tell without scale but they were about a foot long and weighed up to half a pound each. That's around 2 inches just for the pointy sharp bit. No wonder a good percentage of kids used to 'chicken out' and scamper away when a dart flew at them.
I never ended up knowing anyone skewered by a lawn dart, though I did know a kid who got skewered by a javelin at a track and field meet at my high school. I like to think of that as extreme lawn darts. The javelin went through his cheek, past his jaw, and ended up lodging itself somewhere in his chest. How's that for a war wound?
Anyway, I found a spiffy study of lawn dart casualties that I thought I would share. The ended up banning the things in '88 when I was 12, but of course they managed to stick around in many a garage for years afterwards.
Childhood lawn dart injuries. Summary of 75 patients and patient report
S. V. Sotiropoulos, M. A. Jackson, G. F. Tremblay, V. F. Burry and L. C. Olson
Department of Infectious Diseases, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Mo.
Lawn dart injuries account for an estimated 675 emergency department visits per year. Seventy-six patients are described herein. The victims ranged from 1 to 18 years of age and were predominantly male (male to female ratio is 3.1:1). The most common sites of injury were head (54%), eye (17%), and face (11%). Hospitalization was required for 54% (41/76) of these patients. Sequelae included unilateral blindness and brain damage. The case fatality rate was 4%. The extent of a head injury was not always clinically apparent at the initial presentation and should be promptly defined by computed tomographic scan. Despite the recent ban on the sale of lawn darts, there remain an estimated 10 to 15 million sets of lawn darts in the homes of Americans. Pediatricians should encourage parents to discard all lawn darts.
No surprise about the sex differences. I've noticed little girls are even less keen to have sharp metal pitched at them than most people. They probably just lack a sense of adventure.