CPSC Says Water Walking Balls Can Be Deadly

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just issued a warning to consumers to stop participating in an emerging water-related recreational activity—Water Walking—due to potential risks for suffocation, drowning, and impact injuries. <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">Water walking balls are marketed under a variety of brand or ride names, the CPSC noted.

Water walking balls have no emergency exit and can be opened only by a person outside of the ball, which significantly increases 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.

To use a water walking ball, the individual climbs into a large, see-through plastic ball. The ball is inflated with a blower through the zipper opening and the zipper is closed, which makes the ball airtight. The ball, with the person locked within, then rolls around on a number of surfaces, such as water, ice, or grass.

Water walking balls are typically used by children as a ride in amusement parks, carnivals, malls, sporting events, and other high-traffic areas. Water walking balls are also sold directly to the public for personal use.

Several states have banned or refused to provide permits for rides that use this product and the CPSC is aware of two incidents involving this product. In one incident, a child was found unresponsive after being inside the ball for a very brief period of time, and emergency medical treatment was sought. In the second incident, a person inside of a ball suffered a fracture when the ball fell out of a shallow, aboveground pool onto hard ground.

CPSC is warning consumers that there is a combination of risks associated with this product, including the potential for suffocation, as well as the potential for drowning and impact injuries. Because the ball is airtight, an inadequate air supply can result when oxygen is depleted and carbon dioxide accumulates inside the walking water ball. This type of dangerous scenario can occur in as little as a few minutes.

Because water walking balls have no padding, impact injuries can occur if the balls collide with each other, or if the ball falls out of the pool onto concrete or other hard surfaces, such as ice or tile.

Water walking balls are also being used on open water, creating the potential for injuries if a boat strikes the ball or if the ball strikes a solid object, such as a buoy or pier. Additionally, the balls present a high risk of drowning if a leak or a puncture occurs.

CPSC has informed state amusement ride officials of the risks associated with this product and encourages state officials not to permit this ride in their state. CPSC does not know of any safe way in which to use this product.

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