For millions of Americans, swimming pool season isn’t far around the corner (if it ever stops snowing, that is). But before we’ve even strapped on our floaties, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a warning on those huge, inflatable “water-walking” balls, which the CPSC says present the double threat of suffocation and drowning.
From the CPSC statement:
The fact that the product has no emergency exit and can be opened only by a person outside of the ball significantly heightens the risk of injury or death when a person inside the ball experiences distress. Pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart, lung, or breathing issues, can be made worse by use of this product…
Because the ball is airtight, an inadequate air supply can result when oxygen is depleted and carbon dioxide accumulates inside the ball. Such a dangerous scenario can occur in as little as a few minutes. Because the water walking balls have no padding, impact injuries can occur if the balls collide with each other, or fall out of the pool onto concrete or other hard surfaces, such as ice or tile. These water walking balls are also being used on open water, creating the potential for injuries if the ball is struck by a boat or strikes a solid object, such as a buoy or pier. Additionally, the balls present a high risk of drowning if there is a leak or a puncture.
The organization knows of at least two incidents involving the big balls, one in which a child required emergency medical treatment after being found unresponsive inside a ball they’d only been in for a very brief period of time.
While these balls aren’t just used on water, CPSC says it “does not know of any safe way to use this product.”