The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an alert today urging consumers not to use plastic water walking balls, because of the potential to suffocate or drown. "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," the agency said in a March 31 news release. "CPSC does not know of any safe way to use this product." According to the agency, at least some of the balls have no emergency exit and can be opened only by a person outside of the ball.
An individual climbs into the large, see-through plastic ball; it is inflated with a blower through the zipper opening; and the zipper is closed, making the ball air-tight. The ball, with the person locked inside, then rolls around on a number of surfaces, including water, ice, or grass. The product is most commonly used by children and is used mainly as a ride in amusement parks, carnivals, malls, sporting events and other high-traffic areas. The product is also sold directly to the public for personal use. Several states have banned or refused to provide permits for rides that use this product. 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 the shallow, above-ground pool onto the hard ground.