The wonders of science never cease to astound as mind-boggling concepts are brought to light that seek to explain the extraordinary phenomena of the universe. In tandem with those discoveries, everyday technological advances are becoming increasingly more innovative and complex, allowing us to more effectively adapt to our ever-changing environment. But sometimes, the answers are a lot more simple than we think. For example, did you ever wonder why there is a hole in the top of your pen cap? There's a simple, yet brilliant reason.
If you have ever given it any thought, maybe you simply chalked it up to a feature of the design that makes it easier to put on the cap. And perhaps you quickly forgot what you were even thinking about, as you absentmindedly began to chew the cap while staring blankly around the room. After all, what does it really matter anyway? But what you didn’t know is that that tiny hole might just be what saves your life, if you happen to accidentally swallow that oh-so-chewable lid.
That’s right. The simple yet quite brilliant motive behind the holes in pen caps is to reduce the risk of death if someone chokes on them. And it happens a lot more often than you think. According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, between 1997 and 2010, thousands of ER trips in the U.S. were caused by accidentally swallowing parts of pens and pencils.
Pen company BIC led the way with this innovative design, allowing for increased airflow with a larger hole and saving lives along the way. It is also a measure now required by international safety standards, “except for in cases where the cap is considered too large to be a choking hazard.” As such, many other companies have followed suit by adding holes to the tops of their pen caps as well.
So, the next time you’re chewing on that pen cap, be grateful for that little hole. It might just save your life.